Lost Weekend in Skokie
Paul Imboden
United States
Evanston
Illinois
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This weekend, an intimate gathering of friends (not to be confused with The Gathering of Friends) fell on the Hampton Inn in Skokie, IL.

There was much games. There was much food. There was much fun. And Peggy still cannot be trusted in a game of Werewolf.

Here's a brief rundown of my weekend.
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1. Board Game: Mall of Horror [Average Rating:6.65 Overall Rank:1301]
Paul Imboden
United States
Evanston
Illinois
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After noshin' on some El Pollo Loco (one just opened up in Logan Square, and yes, the chicken was sufficiently crazy), I got squared away at the Hampton Inn. My cohorts descended on this game like locusts. I hadn't played before and was looking forward to trying it out this weekend. Fantastic game, even as I was clearly losing -- but the last turn is just awful. You're either blowing out a victory or you're getting placed in a massive kingmaker position. Love the theme, love the voting, HATE the final turn.

Ted and an unknown player tied for first. Ted, who had played several times before, suggested the unknown player, who hadn't played the game before, win. Ted is awesome.
 
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2. Board Game: Ra [Average Rating:7.47 Overall Rank:136]
Paul Imboden
United States
Evanston
Illinois
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Quick 5-player game of Ra after the zombie attack. Sushi and pizza break interrupted second epoch. The third epoch came down to Rose, Brad, and me. 7 monuments, 2 w/ 3 tiles and 1 w/ 4 tiles... and a lucky break on the suns game me the win. Woo hoo!
 
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3. Board Game: Werewolf [Average Rating:6.60 Overall Rank:1250]
Paul Imboden
United States
Evanston
Illinois
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Jumped into two of the three games of Witch Hunt (variant on Werewolf, the dead don't reveal). Played a villager both times, killed both times, lost to the witches both times.

Peggy: I've got your tells.
Rachel: I've got yours as well, but I'll forget them by the next time I see you.

Tony: Most light-hearted (and fun) moderator I've heard in a while. Good job.
Randy: Fantastic job at keeping the group on pace as moderator.

---

There was a third game that went into the 4am hour. I'm not 23 anymore. I went to bed.
 
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4. Board Game: Shadows Over Camelot [Average Rating:7.14 Overall Rank:331]
Paul Imboden
United States
Evanston
Illinois
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Woke up on Saturday morning to a fierce game of Shadows over Camelot. After a rough opening, it came down to a do-or-die situation: if there was a traitor by endgame, we would lose. We took a guess... and came up correct. After the traitor was revealed, half the group took lifepoint hits to finish Excaliber before Camelot fell to siege engines. 7-5, Good Guys. Whew.

Brad - Percival
Rachel - Palamedes, new player! Go Mizzou!
Tony - Arthur. We WILL complete that Grail quest one day, I swear.
Matt - Kay, new player!
Loren - Galahad, new player!
Dana - Tristan, traitor, new player!
Paul - Gawain. w00t!

(And it needs to be said: Dana either played his hand perfectly as Traitor, or got dealt the single-worst hand in the history of this game. He was furious when called out. Dude: It wasn't your fault. It was do-or-die by that point. Also, if there were less first-time players, we would have made sure that you got a chance to play a Loyal.)
 
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5. Board Game: The Scepter of Zavandor [Average Rating:7.01 Overall Rank:885]
Paul Imboden
United States
Evanston
Illinois
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This game surprised me. I'm usually not too fond of:

a) tacked-on themes;
b) generic fantasy themes;
c) economic games;
d) long, long games (3+ hours).

To top all that off, I was replacing another player in the game, one hopelessly in last place... which couldn't have been better for me as the sole new player at the table. Learned the dynamics, loved the snowballing nature of the game, found myself getting psyched up as I started accumulating more power, shocked folks when I made significant progress on the track. It's being released in English soon -- y'all can have Caylus, this one's mine.

Bal made a huge end-run and just sneaked in front of John and Scott Tepper by 3 points. Sentinels-a-go-go and emerald-generating factories won the game for him (methinks). I was doing fairly well with diamonds and sapphires by end-game, finished three knowledge tracks and was able to purchase a talisman before game's end.

Did I mention that I'm getting this game? Because I am.
 
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6. Board Game: Bunte Runde [Average Rating:5.93 Overall Rank:8029]
Paul Imboden
United States
Evanston
Illinois
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Two games, six hours. I needed a filler or two. Played this weird little gem with Aldie, Scott Tepper, and another couple (Heidi and Charles?), almost the definition of "brainless fun". Done in five minutes, more strategy than Poison, and comes with different figures for kids (although I think the shapes and colors are actually easier for kids). A nice lime wedge to blast out the tequila of Scepter.

I think Scott won. Seriously. This is how fried my brain was.
 
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7. Board Game: Diamant [Average Rating:6.83 Overall Rank:633]
Paul Imboden
United States
Evanston
Illinois
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Another filler, and one I know. Scott, Heidi, Charles, Tasha, and I journeyed into the caves. 3 of them collapsed. I pressed my luck on one of the caves, drew a 17 for myself, and ran like hell. Woo hoo! N.O.I.R Paris, c'est magnifique!

---

Break for dinner at Ruby Tuesday. Mmmm. Coconut shrimp dinner. Broccoli. Cheese-covered rice pilaf. (Homer Simpson drooling noise.)
 
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8. Board Game: Railways of the World [Average Rating:7.69 Overall Rank:96] [Average Rating:7.69 Unranked]
Paul Imboden
United States
Evanston
Illinois
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Final game for the weekend was another long one, and another one I was itching to test-drive: I was debating between this one and Age of Steam, neither of which I'd ever played before. I like it, with some reservations:

There's a heck of a learning curve to this game, even moreso when you're surrounded by people like Scott "I Own Every Game Published Since 1956" Tepper and John (who practically bleeds train games). This is another snowball game, where if you don't have your generation engine in place early, you're going to suffer. And I didn't.

That said, I'd play it again with a smaller group (5 players equaled another 3+ hour game). But I won't buy it.

Yet...

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The weekend rounded out with me watching a game of Werewolf in progress, moderated by Rachel, who does a great job of moderating as well. Werewolf blowout, with THREE remaining at end-game. Egad.

---

Then: rest. Sweet, sweet rest.

That was a fantastic weekend. I'm already looking forward to BGG-Con. See you in November!
 
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