On the temperate evening of Saturday, October 6, 2012 twenty gamers shrugged off the fact that it had only been eight days since the last CBBS Game Night, girded their loins, and waded into ludopathic excess once again. We count amongst their numbers Tim, Darin, Andy, Nyck, Bryan, Scott, Ori, Tom, Eric, Mary, Elden, Lynette, Nathaniel, Ian, Caleb, Leif, Steve, first-time attendee Disean, and long-time prodigals Amanda and Ryan. Zowie!
The extra robots came from Andy's duplicate molds that I commissioned for use in my third copy of Fische Fluppen Frikadellen. We played that either robot of a color would work; this meant that the solutions usually were shorter (I don't think any went into double digits) but it also meant it was harder to be sure that your solution was the best one. So the game becomes less about finding any solution at all and more about finding the best one quickly; even more than in the original game, this would probably work better as a game if we let the first caller do the puzzle, rather than giving it to the person with the fewest chips - most of the solutions are fairly easy to find, so the real skill is in finding them quickly.
It also might be fun to try and move both robots into the goal. I don't know what we do with them after the fact - maybe the second one goes back to where it started, or something like that.
Anyway, we awarded Darin, Tim, Andy, Nyck, Bryan, and Scott at least one chip for their efforts. Bravo!
Andy had been doing some reading and book-learnin', and thus wanted to play Acquire, which is widely considered to be the very first Eurogame - and it still holds up pretty well today. He was joined at Table Three by Bryan, Scott, Eric, and Mary.
We probably don't play Acquire as much as it deserves, but every time we do it seems to be a very close and exciting game. This game was no exception, as a mere $400 separated first and second place.
That first place score belonged to Andy, who earned $43,400, while Eric scored an even $43,000. Scott finished with $40,000, probably one good tile draw away from victory. Bryan got caught in the well-known Acquire money death spiral and could only earn $24,600, while Mary's $29,100 is annotated with "9H ≠ 6H", which gives you some idea of her troubles in this game.
Start time (splaining): 7:06pm Start time: (actual): 7:32pm End time: 8:55pm
Meanwhile, Tim embarked on what was, apparently, the rather extensively splained sophomore playing of Helvetia. Really, he just likes the big red box. Anyhoo, Elden, Lynette, and Darin were the other Swiss Misses and/or Misters.
Having played, successfully and/or illicitly, the purple down the middle strategy last time, Tim decided this time to try and get the whole cow-based tree, on the right side of the board. The conjecture from our first playing was that doing that would get you most of the way to the 20 points, assuming you were first in most or all of the higher level goods - which is a reasonable assumption, because getting those higher level goods takes a lot of planning.
Darin, meanwhile, grabbed the top three core good bonus, then did the purples down the middle and sprinted to finish his village for the four point bonus tile. Thus, Darin got more cubes down early and was leading, but Tim got harder and more valuable cubes down later, and by the sixth round they were ready to end the game and see which strategery worked best. For most of the game, Darin was able to hold onto several bonus action tiles while Tim could not; in the end that was the difference, as Darin eeked in a 24 to 23 point victory. If Elden had used all his disks on his final turn, Tim would have been Start player and the game would have been tied; it was Tim's bad luck that there wasn't much for Elden (such as trading or building a VP building) to do with his two disks. Elden and Lynette were each spreading cubes around and making some deep progress on the goat tree; they finished with 15 and 17 respectively.
Fighting for the bonus action tiles was pretty key, and Darin was able to win most of those. Tim had to spread his actions around to keep waking up his stupid wheat farmer to allow his cow to make meat or cheese, which is definitely a downside to playing for one of the big side trees.
It might be interesting to build a couple trading buildings and then marry into the high-level production buildings as soon as someone builds it; if you can poach some high level goods before the guy working the tree can, it could cause a big swing in points.
Back in the Lounge, Caleb, Nyck, Ian, and Nathaniel gathered for the strange purpose of stealing each others' treasures and killing each other off in Wiz-War (eighth edition).
Caleb and Nyck got early treasure chests, but then Nathaniel played a four turn Gravity card, which prevented everybody from picking up any more chests. So, naturally, they turned to fighting each other, as frustrated Wizards are wont to do. Nyck turned into a werewolf and did massive damage to Ian, who in turn came within one hit point of victory by knocking Nathaniel down from fifteen hit points to one in one turn. Sadly, that only set up Caleb, who waltzed over and punched Nathaniel to death for the win.
Start time: Dude, we're not even sure this game happened End time:
From some time and place, out of the aether, comes this photograph:
Since we have no scoresheet to go along with this strange tableau, we can only conclude one of two things: either Nathaniel, Nyck, and Ian played Can't Stop at some point in the evening, or they were party to a massive conspiracy to defraud the Columbia Basin Boardgame Society for their own nefarious purposes. We shall leave it to history to judge.
It was now, apparently, time for a reconfig, although it's hard to tell with the cavalier attitude toward scorekeeping discipline shown by an alarmingly increasing percentage of the CBBS.* We had, technically, a pantload of gamers to deal with, so we needed some big-playin' games - and Long Shot is the biggest-playin' game we have this side of Liar's Dice. So, Scott, Lynette, Bryan, Eric, Andy, Ori, and Mary crammed themselves around Table Three to play this game.
One advantage of forcing everybody to play on Table Three is that we don't have any video over there, so I don't have to watch it to try and figure out what actually happened in the game. All I can do is give the final totals. Hooray!
Those totals are: Andy, with $220, followed by Ori and her $125, Scott and Lynette with $95 apiece, Eric with $80, Bryan with $50, and Mary with $30. Golly!
Meanwhile, Tim bogarted Table One to play another game he'd been trying to get to the table for a while, Feudality. Back in the day, Tim and his brother used to play all kinds of Tom Wham games from Dragon Magazine, like Search for the Emperor's Treasure and King of the Tabletop - so when Tim discovered a Tom Wham Eurogame, it became a must-buy. Ian, Darin, Tom, and Ryan rounded out the fivesome for its initial playing.
I described this as a cross between Catan and a wargame, but actually the war parts (while they take up a fairly hefty portion of the game splanation) ended up being a relatively minor part of the game. Each turn you roll the dice, everybody cross references them on their kingdoms, and then they activate one building or person on or near the target, which gets you some resources or victory points. Then you draw a random event, draft some new tiles to put on your board, and finally the start player takes two "Baronal" actions - which usually involve getting more resources, but could (theoretically) involve fighting or sabotaging your neighbors.
But fighting with other players is hard to do, and fighting external conflicts is almost as hard, so the only time the military generally comes into play is with the events - the King may require troops to fight a war, or Bandits or Monsters may attack. So, it's more just a tile drafting, kingdom building game, which is fun enough (and feels very Tom Wham-y), but it is hardly a strategic tour de force.
In this game, Tim never really got very many resources, and in most Eurogames that would be a major problem. But, instead, when a tile hit on Tim's Kingdom it was often a VP tile - and victory points, after all, are how you actually win the game. Plus, Tim was able to draft a Knight in the initial draw, which meant he was always able to earn VPs for the King's wars and fight off some weak bandits. So despite his dwindling resource hoard, he scored 4 VPs on one turn (you re-roll doubles or eights, after scoring them) to reach the magic total of 13 for the win. Ian had 6, Darin had 5, and Tom and Ryan each had earned 4.
From this, we learned that it is really important to (a) keep your military healthy, to score those event points, and (b) do not undervalue the simple VP buildings - that third mine may seem tempting, but if you want to win you gotta score, too.
Start time: 9:10pm, 9:35pm End time: 9:35pm, 9:55pm
Finally, Nyck, Nathaniel, and Amanda sequestered themselves in the Lounge and played two games of King of Tokyo.
In Game One, the scoresheet claims that there was a two way draw between Nyck and Amanda, as Nyck killed Amanda's monster but his monster was in turn slain by her poison. In my mind, this makes Nathaniel the winner - unless, of course, he was already dead.
In Game Two, Amanda accumulated 19 stars, one short of winning, before her monster met his doom; that allowed Nathaniel to claim victory when he beat Nyck's monster in a good old fashioned daikaiju showdown.
Start time: 10:10pm End time: eeeeeeessssssspaaaaaaahhaaaaaannnn
Apparently, the Lounge felt the need to reconfig twenty minutes before anybody else, which is why Nathaniel, Nyck, and Amanda could only add time traveler Scott to their ranks in order to play Yspahan.
Amanda won, with 67 points, while Nyck scored 60, Scott earned 54, and Nathaniel accrued 47. The scoresheet notes that only one cube made it to the Caravan - it is a little hard to see how the Caravan pays off, but once you see someone clobber you by playing there you'll never neglect it again.
Start time: 10:30pm, 10:40pm End time: 10:40pm, Nobody cares
Table Three was the next to need a reconfig, so they wisely chose an actual filler, Diamant, to fill out the available time. Caleb, Eric, Andy, Ori, Mary, Bryan, and Lynette were the spelunkers.
In Game One, the snakes killed everybody and nobody got any gems. The pattern followed in most of the other rounds, as the cave became lethal quickly via gas, rocks, rocks, and scorpions. Nevertheless, Andy and Caleb managed to earn 14 gems apiece, while Eric scored 12 and Mary gathered 6. The others all died penniless, which may seem harsh, but they knew the risks.
The scoresheet also notes that "Very Dayron mizre", which, I'm sure.
In Game Two, which, as far as we know, is still going on, the Scorpions once again killed everybody before they could score in the first round. Having learned their lesson, everybody got out before the explosion in round 2. In round three, Ori got extremely greedy, staying in with 20 gems in hand only to die in some horrible, unnamed way. The snakes returned for round 4 while the explosion killed everyone again in round 5. Upon the ritual looting of the corpses, it was discovered that Lynette had found 23 diamonds, while Mary scored 18 rubies, Bryan and Andy each had 16 emeralds, Kaleb and Eric found 11 sapphires, and Ori mined three whole cubic zirconiums.
Table One mysteriously thought Table Three was not almost finished, so they brought out Pickomino - which actually takes a little longer that most fillers, especially with six players. So it was a comedy of errors all around. Tim, Ryan, Disean, Darin, Elden, and latecomer Andy are all duly ashamed.
As per usual, the early leaders eventually started crapping out, losing all their worms and flipping the table multiple times in disgust. When this farce was finished we had to award victory to Darin, who somehow managed to scrounge up nine worms, with Andy in second with 6. Ryan scored 3, Elden ate one, and Tim and Disean both went wormless.
Out on Table Three, Ori, Scott, Nyck, Nathaniel, and not Tim played Primordial Soup.
Scott scored 44 points for the win; I would like to know how, as the interplay between the genes is interesting and sometimes unexpected. Nyck finished with 30, while Ori and Nathaniel scored 28 and 25, respectively.
Finally, on Table Two, Steve, Caleb, Amanda, and Tim played Core Worlds. Hey, that really was Tim, so we can now say for certain that it was (probably) Andy over on Table One. Whew!
Frankly, I found this game very frustrating. It's a deck building game, but you are getting cards with an eye towards scoring big points in the final couple rounds with some key Core Worlds. Unfortunately, this means that after two hours of play, if you don't happen to draw the right cards, you may end up not able to cash in. Or, it may not matter much, if nobody happens to be building towards the same goal as you. Obviously, it would be good to build differently than everybody else, but that involves a lot of guesswork, and it's not really possible to pivot your strategy once you are in the mid rounds.
Anyway, Tim and Steve both built flight heavy decks, while Caleb concentrated on ground troops and Amanda played a mixed strategy. Tim went first in round nine and was all ready to grab Anu - but instead of drawing all those star cruisers and capital ships, he drew his remaining snub fighter and a couple tactics cards. This allowed Steve to take Anu, while Tim had to waste a turn getting his troops down and then taking Zeus on the final round - a card that Steve was also angling for, so we deftly got in each others' way.
Meanwhile, Caleb, who had built up a huge army, leisurely grabbed most of the Prestige Worlds until they were all gone, and then finally took Wotan - he knew none of the rest of us could manage the ground strength, so he was in no hurry. It was definitely a mistake by the others (especially Tim) to allow Caleb to take so many Prestige planets - those two or three points don't seem like a lot, but there aren't any other ways to score in the late game beside Core Worlds. Tim almost had enough to grab a second Core World (Ra), but unless you can do that you have to get your share of Prestige worlds before they are all gone. That tension between grabbing Prestige and risking losing your Core World was actually really interesting - but it didn't apply evenly to everybody in the end game, which was too bad.
Anyway, Caleb won with 32 points; Amanda got a couple Prestiges and her key Core world to finish with 27, while Tim and Steve each finished with 26.
I would really like to play the final four rounds over again - the Prestige World blunder was annoying, but I would like to explore just how unlucky I was to draw poorly in round nine. It may be that its smarter to use rounds seven and eight to get a huge army down (like Caleb did) instead of using them to conquer planets in the penultimate deck. But some of those late planets score six or seven points, almost as much as a Core World, so its not an obvious thing to trade off.
All of a sudden, there were only six gamers left. Of course, it was 2:45 in the morning, but still. We at the CBBS expect more constitutional fortitude from our members. We may have to institute daily calisthenics drills to whip us into shape.
At any rate, it was decided that Andy, Nyck, Tim, Nathaniel, Caleb, and Leif would play Shadow Hunters.
Early in the game, Tim, as Hunter Fu-Ka, knew from a Hermit card that Leif was either a Hunter or a Neutral. Meanwhile, Andy had given Nyck a Hermit card, and then immediately attacked him, which meant that they were (probably) on opposite teams - which meant that one of them was also on Tim's team. Caleb then made a point of not attacking Nyck, so Tim knew (probably) that Caleb and Nyck were Shadows, Andy was the other Hunter, and Leif and Nathaniel were the Neutrals. And that, amazingly enough, was exactly the case.
A machine gun blast proved that Nyck was the Vampyre (by killing him), at which point Leif doubled up a handgun and weird wood attack to kill Andy, as George. Leif continued his reign of terror by killing Nathaniel's poor Agnes, just because he could. Caleb then revealed as the Unknown in order to use the chocolate to heal himself completely. But Tim then revealed as Fu Ka, which allowed him to use her "nurse" powers to give Caleb 7 points of damage again. He then attacked Caleb with a butcher knife for three points, and the Hunters had won.
Leif revealed as Catherine, who wants (if she can't die first) to be one of the last couple people alive. As only Tim was left, Leif also won.
And then we noted that Nathaniel was to Tim's left; Agnes wins if the person on her right wins, so Nathaniel also won, albeit posthumously.
So, as it turns out, everybody but those nasty Shadows won. Hooray!
Since it is now October, you can find all kinds of things with pumpkin flavor. For example, those cookies you see are pumpkin chocolate chip, which were spectacularly delicious. With the change of seasons comes other, equally irrational changes, such as getting Pop Chips (whatever those are) instead of Kettle chips, and getting Smoky Chipotle Doritos rather than the traditional Spicy Sweet Chili kind.
Of course, we also got plenty of regulars, including M&Ms, two kinds of Jerky, Milk Duds, spice drops, fruit slices, Warheads, chocolate pretzels, Ding Dongs, and Ginger Os. We also had some semi-irregulars, such as Wasabi peas and Four Cheese Cheezits.
I find it interesting that there are so many different flavors of red in the world. We had just one flavor each of Light Lemonade, Dr. Pepper 10, Diet Sunkist, and water.