GCL Phoenix 114: Is It Just a Game (2013-03-10)
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I was listening to an interview on CBC radio a week or so ago (I can't remember exactly when) and they were talking to a neuropsychologist about multitasking and it's negative impact on the way we think and pay attention.
"Attention deficit trait" is the result; a sort of temporary Attention Deficit Disorder according to Dr. Edward Hallowell (not the person I heard on CBC, but someone I found Googling ADT).
...it's a condition induced by modern life, in which you've become so busy attending to so many inputs and outputs that you become increasingly distracted, irritable, impulsive, restless and, over the long term, underachieving. In other words, it costs you efficiency because you're doing so much or trying to do so much, it's as if you're juggling one more ball than you possibly can.
The past fifteen years, I've been "multitasking" at work and to a lesser extent at home. When I look back at the games I played and enjoyed twenty years ago verses now, there's quite a difference.
For example, twenty years ago I was seriously into Bridge. Not now. If I was (forced) to play Bridge today, there's no way I'd concentrate on counting cards and, yet back in my twenties, it was almost second nature.
I wonder how much that has to do with age and how much it has to do with environment? And if I'm the only one who thinks modern multitasking life has influenced what kinds of games we currently enjoy as compared to games from twenty years ago and more.
According to the BBC:
Workers distracted by e-mail and phone calls suffer a fall in IQ more than twice that found in marijuana smokers...
How about game players? We can all agree that it's annoying when the tempo of a game is interrupted by a "multitasking" opponent, but have you any evidence it impacts their gaming skill?
Or (if you are the smartphone addict) maybe your own?
From the last list discussing Archipelago and Hidden Trackable Information:
But there is a staggering amount of information to track in this game -- 6 different resource types, money, deductions about players' secret objectives and end-game conditions... I just don't think secrecy adds anything that I want.
Do some game designers use information overload as a way to obfuscate the calculable and the trackable?
Is this a reflection of modern life in our modern board games?
If so, let's talk about these designers and their games.
_5_ Dominant Species: The Card Game x1 New! Cult!
Learning game with my boys. Wow, there's a lot of take that to this game. It takes the elements I like least of Dominant Species and spins it into a card game. Ok, then! My oldest son killed us with an end score of 56, while my youngest son and I tied at 24. It's not a bad game at all; in fact, I admire how you have to manage your hand throughut the game as you don't collect many cards from one round to the next, but I don't think this will get requested much.
_8_ The Great Heartland Hauling Co. x3 New! Cult!
Taught this to my boys and my daughter! and even at basic settings this was quite a bit of fun. I ended and won the game at 31, while my daughter got second place with 25, my youngest son (who apparently suffered a lot in this game) had 18, and my oldest son 16.
Second game was just my daughter and myself. I triggered the game end due to needing to get the boys, and lost points for having a few things on my truck, but was still able to win by one point. Dad 48 Daughter 47.
Third game was at library game day event. I lost a ton of points in the end and had 10, my daughter (slightly frustrated) had 21,
Caleb 26 and Kevin 30.
_6_ Pax Porfiriana x1 New! Cult!
First game with the boys. After a long game with weird card draws, my youngest son won by revolution against his brother and myself.
_7_ Vino x1 New!
Interesting wine themed game that reminds me a bit of Power Grid. I had trouble parsing some of the rules and their implications and the game is fairly unforgiving, so I knew I had lost well before the game ended.
_5_ Ticket to Ride x1
My youngest son joined his sister and myself to go back to this. My daughter still needs a bit of help and plays with an open hand, but she kept attention and was happy to have won with 121 to her brother's 107 and my own 106.
Tabled: 19 unplayed. (-Dominant Species: The Card Game, +/- The Great Heartland Hauling Co., -Pax Porfiriana)
Removed: 12 removed. (Saint Petersburg)
Acquired: 14 acquired. (The Great Heartland Hauling Co.)
Cultish: 05 worthy / 06 played. (Dominant Species: The Card Game, The Great Heartland Hauling Co., Pax Porfiriana)
Kudos: 01 achieved / 11 progress.
2013 TRACK - Tabled, Removed, Acquired, Cultish and Kudos
Slow week. A 2-player game of Keyflower followed by a game of Innovation with Figures. Figures was new to me, but Innovation really isn't a favorite to start with.
10 - Tigris & Euphrates x1
10 - Pax Profiriana x1
8- Equinox x1
Equinox was with Ben of course. A wonderful two-player gem by Jason Boomer, and I hope he keeps designing. While being an abstract, it has that same exuberance & grinning personality that Carl Chudyk brings to his games, though with simpler and immediately intuitive mechanics and the simplicity of lay-a-tile, pass-the-bag.
The naming of the tiles has a wit to them that lifts the game into a minimal thematic latching with such deftness I shook my head with appreciation as the game unfolded (as Ben surmised, we smelled the hand of fine development and thought highly of Chris Cieslik).
The look ahead mechanic for the tiles you can choose, and the simplicity of adding a point to the new tile added each turn, heighten the tile choice with turn-order type shenanigans as you pass (hopefully) devilish decisions to your partner. It suits the LoFi (Low Overhead, Full Interaction) movement's goals with charm, the [i]why[\i] questions of a move fill your mind without churn and there are no how questions, surprise comes out of the bag.
My only qualifications: 1) I was taught it by Ben, a perfect partner for this sort of thing, so in your first play pick someone who'll appreciate it; 2) that you have the time & interest & partner (a nod to your fine topic, Michael) to tune-in to an abstracted, small tour-de-force rather than a brilliantly candied hotlist game; and 3) you know my exuberance when I see something cool like this come from nowhere (well, Asmadi isn't nowhere with first Innovation and now this), so temper my appreciation with Ben's more thoughtful way of evaluating a game.
And oh hey, it's backpack friendly too. I wish mine had been here this weekend, my youngest was up from Oregon and I think she would've loved it.
T&E was a wonderful win by Martin from the fourth position goat. And our metagame took a big turn as we explore creating uncertainty on the part of those with turn order advantage, such as moi who limped into a distant 2nd as the Urn (or Urinal). Holy crap, another crazy game. What a head game. I'll drag over a post by Ben into my area below and talk a bit about T&E in relation to that.
Pax was with Ben at Cafe Mox. Thinking about it afterward, I realized how the game poses a constant difficult decision whether to pad the growth of your economy or respond to the other's tableau and constrain their strategy.
In our play, the self-annihilating play for Outrage won out over a superior and controlling money tableau. The money player could've stopped the topple had the deck overturned a card that could stop it... They had tons of money. The winning player, while they banked up and bought Teddy for a failed and misplayed topple attempt, with minimal funds and setting up the unchangeable regime lasted another turn or two to punch it home with just a $4 income. The decision to improve structurally carries the risk of losing too much tempo to an aggressive political prestige differential, and in the variations on this lies the nuance of the game.
Anyway, we played open hand, which I again found an improvement. And I MUST make a simple prestige tracking board, the only pain in the butt is recounting obsessively each persons political position as you scheme a topple move.
Board Game: Hanabi & Ikebana
[Average Rating:7.50 Unranked]
[Average Rating:7.50 Unranked]
We introduced Kat's best friend to the hobby this week, and she was over here gaming with us 3 nights. Pretty good stuff.
A la Carte x 2
One of these was just daughter and I, as she really likes this game. She beat me soundly, of course.
The other was a 4-player game with Kat, daughter, myself and Kat's longtime best friend Angie. This was Angie's first time playing any of These Games with us, and it went very so-so. She just didn't seem too engaged, though she perked up a bit halfway through.
Hanabi x 9
This was the big hit of the week. After A la Carte, I brought out Hanabi for Kat, Angie and I to play. It went over very well, and the 3 of us played it on 3 nights this past week. In our last session I started pushing the envelope a bit (as discussed last week). Kat's first reaction was "Why are you giving such bad clues? We don't know what you're trying to tell us." I told her that I was tired of scoring 16 every time and that if we wanted to improve at the game, we'd have to shake things up a bit. I always stress to new players and experienced players that whenever someone tells you a clue, you need to think about it and ask yourself "Why would they tell me this?".
Part of my problem is that, even though I've passed 50 plays of Hanabi now, I don't have any one group of people I play it with regularly. I'm a real Hanabi slut, having taught it to many, many people and groups. I've gotten to play it a lot, but haven't developed that special bond with any one group. It's just a lot of sex at that point, IT'S SUPPOSED TO MEAN SOMETHING.
I moved Hanabi into my top 10 this week.
Love Letter x 1
Angie, Kat and I. I think Angie thought it was way too random at first (not an unreasonable conclusion) but the bluffing and deduction started to show through as we played. Not sure she liked this one.
Piece o' Cake x 1
We closed out that first gaming night with Angie by teaching her Piece o' Cake, and she took to it very well. We only played a single round (5 cakes) and Angie won. I'm always happy to play this one.
Pixel Tactics x 1
Very cool 2-player card game with lots of aggression and many choices to make. The players get identical decks to play with, and each card has a different function based on where in your formation you play it.
I imagine I'll be the only one on here playing this, and I'm hoping to do more of that tomorrow.
RattleSnake x 1
We each had 5 of our magnets on the board before my last placement caused a big ruckus on the board and handed daughter the easy win.
Palastgefluster x 1
Another very cool new-to-me card game, only managed a 3-player learning game but found it very impressive. My wife didn't like it much, and I'm hoping to try it out at the shop but I can't see many people there liking it either. It's very counterintuitive, which is something I like in a game but some folks I play with hate it. In the first 2 or 3 rounds of the game, I grabbed the wheel, hit the gas and drove myself into a big old brick wall (those of you familiar with the game will know exactly what I mean).
Space Cadets x 1
This was sort of lackluster for me, but that was more about the situation than the game itself. It was a very dark day for me after a few days with little sleep, and I ended up in the company of people I just didn't have the energy for.
That said, I'm still very impressed and excited to play this one more.
King of Tokyo x 2
This went over very well on Wednesday night, as expected. I just need to make sure to bring it out as a filler and not a main event, because the others liked it enough that I could see it being requested more than I want to play it.
Pandemic x 1
Another new one we taught to Angie. It went over pretty well, though it didn't have much tension. We had only 4 epidemics and a very strong table (Dispatcher, Medic, Archivist). That said, there were only 3 cards in the draw deck when we got the 4th cure. This is another coop like Hanabi where I've plateaued and need to shake the tree a bit.
Ticket to Ride x 1
Kat won this 3-player game, and the main flaw in the game reared its ugly head: Kat drew tickets late in the game and got a 19-point one that she already had connected. She won by 20.
I still enjoy TTR for what it is. Angie said she didn't care for the game (or for A la Carte). I appreciate someone telling me what they like and don't like.
Nonesuch x 1
Got to play this trick-taking Decktet game again. I like it a lot, but the scoring seems off to me. Each hand has 12 tricks. At the beginning of the game, you bid SOME (1pt per trick you take) MOST (2 points per trick as long as you take 6 or more) or NONE (12 points if you take no tricks). A good MOST hand will get you pretty far toward winning.
Of course, I realized that we have missed a rule in our plays: you make that bid before the trump suit is chosen (a card is flipped up in the middle at the start of the round, the player who drew The Excuse takes that card and, if it has 2 suits, calls one of them as trump). My gut reaction was "I don't like the idea of bidding before trump is called" but that might reign in the scoring and make those MOST calls a little tougher. Maybe next time I'll, ya know, play it by the right rules n' stuff.
Magnate x 1
I taught this to Angie while Kat fell asleep in her chair. Amazing how quickly having children makes you old.
Innovation w/Echoes & Figures x 1
We had time for a game the other morning and Kat requested Innovation. Who am I to deny her? She's taken to playing with both expansions, and I like it too. I still think that just the base game is the best experience because it is snappy and flows so well, but after 170+ plays, I like to mix it up with expansions.
Equinox x 1
We both had the day off yesterday, and we managed to squeeze in a learning play of this. Levi was unruly, so it was pretty tough to get a good feel for it. We tried a second play and quit when it was clearly not going to work out. I see the love for it, and I hope to get to play it more. It seems to play quickly and, like Tom said, I found myself smirking at the way the tile names tie in so nicely with their functions. I didn't notice until the end of the game that the art on the tiles is all constellations - very charming.
My only concern is whether it will be too chaotic for my tastes. Some of those early moves seem almost meaningless, as you know that a bunch of crazy shit is going to happen. This is after 1 distracted play, so take that with a grain of salt.
Yesterday was one of those days. Sickness has been going around the house again, so everyone was tired and cranky, no one was happy. Sometimes my days off seem as rough as my work days.
Another busy week scheduled. Kat has school this morning, then I work. I work Wednesday, then have therapy so I'll either miss game night or show up very late. I also get to work open to close on Thursday and Friday as a coworker had a baby and we're short-staffed as it is.
Tough going these days.
Powers:Coleridge:Milton: Faith...must be, if anything, a clear-eyed recognition of the patterns and tendencies, to be found in every piece of the world's fabric, which are the lineaments of God.
That's Tim Powers' fictional Samuel Coleridge "quoting" John Milton in _The Anubis Gates_.
Scorecard for the Week/Month/Year as of 9Mar2013:
5/10/101 plays of 4/8/66 total games, with 0/0/15 expansions employed.
Plays with 8/13/54 distinct opponents.
0/0/8 games acquired (plus 0/0/1 expansions.)
0/0/1 games ordered (plus 0/0/0 expansions.)
Orders for 5 games and 1 expansions still outstanding.
With my two youngest:
1x _6_ Dragon Delta - Provoked by seeing the River Dragons reprint; we'd not tried it for a while (almost 10 years!) and so I thought to try it with the youngsters that were too little to have thought about attempting it last time.
Strangely, for me at least, they both loved it. I don't! It's very chaotic and in-your-face; but the little ones enjoyed stomping me (and each other.) We might have to play again!
With a couple of the Wednesday Night folk:
1x _8.5_ Neuland - While I love Neue Heimat too, I'd not played Neuland for a much longer while: so this one makes my highlight of the week both on raw rating, and on delight in finally getting it back to the table. I find the game particularly attractive and sensible in play; while it's not particularly easy to navigate (or play well), it's a model of coherence, focus, and simplicity compared to last week's Ora et Labora. The 3p game is significantly more interesting that the 2p version (which is the majority of my previous plays); there's a lot more juggling of potential interference and timing, which adds to the fun.
1x _7.7_ Tzolk'in: The Mayan Calendar - It's strange: I rather enjoyed my first couple plays of Tzolk'in; I think it still has quite a lot of merit. But it felt strangely generic - despite the lovely gears - against Neuland. I suspect the fault is mine, and I'm perceiving theme wrong: but "THIS IS MAYAN! (now move some cylinders about; collect some disks and cubes; and marvel at the Blue Crystal Skulls)" wasn't quite working for me on this play. In contrast, despite the abstraction and muted palette, I found myself consistently working in the language of the theme in Neuland ("I'll mine some coal here, then transport it to the smithy there along with this iron ore in order to make a bar of iron...")
I think I perceive theme wrong. For example, I don't get the theme in Innovation. I don't generally recall the names of any of the cards I play: I perceive the game in a wash of icons, dogmas and demands - but without any tie to theme. Pax Pacificorum might get there in the end (since I've only played it once) but on the one play, I found myself enjoying the insanity of the flavour and theme of the cards we played. (We played it leisurely enough that we could ogle each card appropriately as it entered play: I rather expect I'd've enjoyed it less if I'd played it the way I do Race for the Galaxy: fast and impersonally.)
With the back-on-Fridays gamers:
2x _8.5_ Neue Heimat - One game that fell off the rails quickly (the winning player owned nothing, and had put a couple million euros in their Bahamanian Escrow Account. All the rest of us were variously owners of complete buildings in the illegal neighbourhood, or incomplete buildings in the legal neighbourhoods.) The next one was a bit better, as we collectively did a better job of understanding the game's balance point. If anything, the plays reminded me of Bamboleo: it seems there's a substantial requirement for the players to be appropriately trained before the game works properly; something I should remember before it inflicting on folk in the wrong environment.
Owned-and-unplayed: 14 (+0/-0)
Outlook for the week: Hrm. I'm on call next weekend (15-18th) so most of my gaming will be midweek. I'll hope to conscript the youngsters again for a game (because they're really delightful cheerful competent opponents) and play something that everyone enjoys on Wednesday Night. And I'll lobby for one of Richard's games on Friday; I think I've got too many of mine to the table recently.
Board Game: Pala
[Average Rating:6.79 Overall Rank:4753]
The Great Heartland Hauling Co. x2
With my wife and daughters:
Mice and Mystics x2
We finally beat chapter 6!
With my oldest daughter:
Tigris & Euphrates x1 (with John, Martin and Tom)
Martin flips the table as the Goat with an aggressive internal conflict right off the bat against me (Lion), stealing my mojo and riding that momentum to a big win. Very cool.
Iowa City Game Day:
This game just fails to click for me. I think part of the problem is that it plays so quickly that by the time I've had a chance to deduce my opponents hidden color that the game is nearly over. This makes me feel like I spent a large part of the game making less meaningful decisions than what I'd like. Obviously I'm just not getting it.
A very enjoyable session. Arkadia is a game that really deserves more respect. I really enjoy the game despite almost always playing like crap.
Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde x1
What a weird little trick-taker. I certainly appreciate that my opponents were willing to dive into this little mind bender with me.
I understand the rules on this one but still can't say I know what good play looks like. That isn't a comment at all about my opponents play (I swear!) but more my mind struggling to find some traction in how unusual this one plays.
Only 28 cards in the deck so the ability to be able to at least roughly count cards is critical I think to good play. Not sure if that will end up becoming easier to do and thus make the game shine in future plays or become a mental tax that kills the game for me.
Always a blast. I pulled of a huge last hand to come from a distant last place for a win. Always fun when you can pull off such an improbable comeback.
Finally played with the right rules and the game really clicked for me. A fantastic trick-taker that is quickly climbing to the top of my pile of favorite card games.
So glad to get Tichu back to the table. We could play every game day and I'd be happy. I was rusty as hell and played like crap. My opponents were really crushing us until my partner pulled off Grand Tichu calls in back-to-back hands!
Tzolk'in: The Mayan Calendar x1
The work to fun ratio was a bit out of whack on this one for me. I can see the appeal for some folks but the logistics puzzle involved ends up just feeling like more work than fun.
Pax Porfiriana x1
Joel and I ended the game day with a 2-player session of Pax. He got some revenge on me by winning on the 2nd topple. I had a very limited economy built but the trade-off was that I had pushed hard for prestige points in 2 different areas.
Joel had a robust economy and was able to use that to bully me around a bit. He purchased a headliner before I could afford it that allowed him to lock down the regime to Pax till after the next topple. Of course he just happened to be strong in loyalty. Sneaky bastard.
Burster of Bubbles, Destroyer of Dreams.
Just imagine the red offboard up here. I'll create it Real Soon Now...
Yes, I know a proper 18XX tile should have a tile number.
My first play of Archipelago since BGG.con was... a mixed bag. If I had realized when 8 of us were dividing into 2 games where the lines would go, I may well have picked another game to put on the table for consideration.
With all that said, though, 2 of the 4 people I taught it to expressed interest in playing again soon "now that we understand how everything works."
And there was comprehension, as we nagged each other to do the right thing so that the island wouldn't topple to revolt.
I just regret the hour and a half spent teaching. The other table was nearly finished their first game before we even got started...
Tuesday, 2013-03-05, SVB at Red Rock
South African Railways (SAR) 3p
Me, JC, Shelby (first play for him.)
As usual I found myself floundering in this game -- after a brief tease of a good start, whenever I had money advantages the "auction a share" box was full, whenever I had income advantages the "pay dividends" box was full.
Finally I started attacking Shelby to squeeze in a meaningless second place.
Me+Shelby vs. Eve+JC. Called on time due to venue closing. The first third of the game was played with some significant rules errors; I would have expected clearer rules from a Milton Bradley game.
We played with no talk between partners, which felt like the right way to play.
As with most abstracts setting up forks seems to be the power move.
Wednesday, 2013-03-06, at John's
Me and John. In spite of John headlining Red Scare twice, I managed to rack up 16 points by the time we called it midway through round 7. We may be finishing this next week. (We left it set up on his table, to be finished if we don't get Chris or another wargamer to join us.)
Thursday, 2013-03-07, Dukefish
Upon a Salty Ocean 4p
Me, Albert, Dave D., John.
This was a painful play, as we all fell into cashflow and turn order traps at various parts of the game. (I had a clever early salt-sales strategy which fell apart when someone did an unexpected salt sale to finance a fishing trip, for example.) Everyone was below -15 at some point or other, several of us for large chunks of the game.
At end-game John's 70-point Cathedral contribution was dominant, and I was close behind with cash and board bonuses.
Luck was also a big factor -- John and I both bought pirate defense at the beginning of the game, and they never showed up again. (Oh, wait, we had the high scores anyway. Never mind.)
Going deep into debt to finagle turn order can be a trap, a serious one.
Peloponnes (no expansions) 3p
Me, Albert, John. No expansions.
Late famine+decline caused a low-scoring game.
Friday, 2013-03-08, my place
(Outpost is comfort food for my gamer soul, OK?)
6p: Kevin T., Dayton, Jeremy, Don, me, Hugh.
I got the near-perfect opening hand: 1 person and one water factory, though with no change left over.
Dayton had 33 (!!!) but used it to buy Heavy Equipment (with no change!) instead of immediate income. Everyone else just bought a water factory with a bit of change.
The data libraries ended up split 2-1-1 (Don, Jeremy, and Dayton put the nail in his coffin by outbidding Don for the last one; he was already in trouble from below-average draws). The nodules went for 31, 42 (!!! -- Jeremy and Kevin got into an insane bidding war), 36, and then something ridiculously low.
You might think that the person+water opening is unbeatable, but by the midgame Don had caught up to me on income with the same 3 water/2 dirt combo.
I strayed from my usual path by buying Heavy Equipment with my first mega-water, and worried that it was too late. It was a mistake, but it turned out not to be fatal.
Don ended up with 2 Scientists and a Laboratory (and robots), but never went into New Chem; Jeremy bought New Chem with his very first yellow card and never looked back.
It takes a slow game to make New Chem viable, though -- perhaps a table that auctions high would see that.
I kicked the game into Era III by buying my 4th and 5th Titanium factories (I already had 2x Microbiotics, Ecoplants and an Outpost by then, another departure from my usual pattern), but the first set of colony upgrades included only Moon Bases and nothing smaller. (I could have easily afforded a Planetary Cruiser at that point, but got a Laboratory as a consolation prize (!!) because even with an Outpost and Warehouse I was up against hand limit. Double Titanium might have been a better choice.)
Final scores me 83, Jeremy 75.550, Kevin 75.530, Don 70+, Hugh ?, Dayton 39. A learning experience indeed.
Saturday, 2013-03-09, my place
Me, Dave D., Candy, Jeremy.
I knew this was the wrong table for the game when teaching took well over an hour before we started to play.
6 Nimmt 5p
Me, Kevin, Candy, Jeremy, Dave D.
Some clever play but mostly lots of joyous chaos.
Oh look, the 46 takes that pile because someone played the 45.
Nom nom nom.
Kingdom Builder 5p
Me, Albert, Jeremy, John, Dayton.
Another game to long for what it offered.
St. Pete expanded 4p
me, Jeremy, Dayton (first play), John.
Jeremy got a bunch of early good upgrade buildings (money+vp) and crushed us.
I had a very productive day while Sam was at his D&D game. I worked on changing over a facet of Ryan's prototype in response to our playtesting session. I think it adds theme and a bit of originality, so it's an exciting change.
I also launched the Microbadge Design Award: Round 10 (March 2013), the most prestigious award in microbadging. We convene about every six months for nominations and voting.
Here's a sneak peek at a tile I did for the ZimP contest:
Sam brought home some minis from players in his game, so I will be painting tomorrow.
Beautiful, spring-like weather here today. I even had the windows open a bit.
_7_ Ascension: Chronicle of the Godslayer x7
_8_ Tzolk'in: The Mayan Calendar x3
The Gaming Week in Review
All my gaming this week was two-player with S. Not surprising, my win-loss record shows (2 & 8). S took six of our seven games of Ascension: Deckbuilding Game and two of our three games of Tzolk'in: The Mayan Calendar.
We've been enjoying our plays of Tzolk'in: The Mayan Calendar. If it continues to entertain us, it may even be my favourite from last year's Essen crop. There appear to be multiple paths to victory and it's quite easy to stake out which one to take pretty early; I enjoy strategizing in this way so if it holds, it may yet be a _9_.
The Week Ahead
whether when to order Il Vecchio. I'd like to bundle it with a few other games to save on shipping, but there's nothing really calling me. And what is, isn't available from my regular shopping grounds.
Nicolai Broen Thorning
Games Played Week 10:
None. Nada. Zilch.
Yes, I am the working bee and am all too tired when I get home to do anything useful in the gaming department - plus I have been down with a cough and a fever.
Anyway, tt seems we have a pattern here. In even weeks we have the kids and spend time with them. In uneven weeks we just have ourselves and get to play some games.
So here's hoping for the weekend...
"If trees could scream, would we be so cavalier about cutting them down? We might, if they screamed all the time, for no good reason." -Jack Handey
.10! Dominion 2
_9_ Magic: The Gathering 23
_8_ Arkham Horror 1
_7_ Archipelago 1
_4_ Nuns on the Run 2 New!
Week in Review
A somewhat quiet week. I played Dominion with some friends who hadn't played in a while and used only the two most recent sets (Dark Ages and Cornucopia). It made for one long, grindy game, with no efficient way to overcome the Ruins being handed out by attacks, and one shorter game that featured a true three-way tie as we each ended with 4 of the 12 provinces and the last player in turn order ended the game. Funny.
Arkham Horror was a little lackluster. It was the latest in my run of exploring the expansions one at a time. As I was going over the special features of the Innsmouth Horror board, the gf said, "We have no chance." 90 minutes later, we were dead and she said, "I told you." It is quite clear that the expansions are intended for people who have already gamed out the base game to the point where it's too easy and we're not there. I should probably go back to the base game on its own next time I play.
Archipelago was my second play, but I had thought of my first play enough that I kept wanting my own copy. I finally broke down and bought it and this was me teaching three friends who had never played. We played the medium game with Ben's suggested layout: random trend + benefactor and the separatist included in the mix for potential player goals. I was, in fact, the separatist. It's quite difficult to be the separatist as you don't have a 100% certain VP goal as the other players do (though I guessed 2/3 of the other goals and had the third on a 50-50 guess). Overall I very much enjoyed this session and am close to upgrading the game to an 8.
Nuns on the Run was a flawed design, sadly, as it looked like it could be fun. It is one of those games that is quickly broken by analytical play. In this case, there is one player controlling two guards who move on fixed paths trying to catch glimpses or hear sounds as the other players move their novices via hidden movement. The novices are seeking a secret wish and have to get a key, get their wish item and return to their room. If they move too close to a guard, they may be seen or heard. The problem is that novices should run all the time. Though it theoretically makes them more likely to be heard, the math of it means that they'll be almost impossible to catch for the patrol-bound pursuers. A quick scan of the BGG forum confirms that this is a common consensus about the game. Too bad.
I didn't know what to do with my UberBadge, so I left it as a GeekBadge.
Last Week's Plays
-.9.- Edel, Stein & Reich
-.9.- Start Player
-.8.- Gambit 7
-.8.- Love Letter (x5)
-.7.- 6 Nimmt!
-.7.- Bora Bora
-.7.- Chaos in the Old World (+The Horned Rat)
-.7.- Flowerfall (x2)
-.7.- Win, Lose, or Banana
-.6.- Hippos & Crocodiles (x4) (+Buffalos (x3) New!)
-.5.- Star Wars: X-Wing (x2) New! (+A-Wing; Y-Wing; TIE Advanced; TIE Interceptor All New!)
A busy weekend for gaming as I went down to the wargames club on Saturday, had friends over for dinner and games on Saturday night and also a whole day of birthday gaming on Sunday. I could have done with a second weekend to recover.
Star Wars: X-Wing has been zooming up the rankings but I didn't find it any more compelling than Wings of War which it controversially borrows from. I'm not very interested in the positional aspects of miniatures gaming and here the luck of the dice can reduce even the greatest tactician's plans to ruins. I played a quick intro game - 2 TIEs vs an X-Wing - to learn the rules (it's very simple). I then played a 100 point battle with larger fleets including some minor named characters from the films/books. True to the story, Biggs Darklighter crashed and burned defending his fellows.
My opponent in the second game is traditionally unlucky with dice rolls, but here they behaved perfectly for him. He claimed it was because they were specialist D8s, rather than the D6s, so his usual luck didn't apply. I realised as I was getting annihilated that one of the things I don't like about miniature wargames is that as your figures are being destroyed, your options become fewer and the game becomes less interesting. Rather than opening out into more decisions as the game progresses, you're frustratingly constrained to a limited number of choices. Compare this to Agricola where more actions become available as the game goes on, and which I find to be a much more enjoyable type of game. This was something of a revelation to me.
Later on, I played Amun-Re with our dinner guests, two of whom hadn't played it before. Matt (more experienced at the game) tried out a strategy whereby he built no pyramids in the first epoch, saving his money to buy all the best provinces in the second epoch instead. This worked out well for him and he claimed a narrow victory. I made a foolish blunder winning an empty province in the second epoch when I hadn't realised it had no pyramids in it. When I spotted my mistake, it was too late to take the move back. I made up for it in Edel, Stein & Reich, somehow managing to take money unchallenged for the entire third round.
We had lots of people over on Sunday and split into two groups. I played a 2-on-2 team game of Innovation which looked like it would go in my team's favour until our opponents realised they could draw an 11 and have more points than us. One more turn and we'd have won. Chaos in the Old World saw us try out the Morrslieb deck from the expansion, which kicked us pretty hard. For a couple of turns we had to pay extra to summon figures, then sacrifice our figures if we wanted to play any cards. It was tough to get much done but also served to speed up the game. I got a VP win with Khorne thanks to the Bloodletter upgrade that gets you 2VPs per kill. It seems a bit overpowered, but perhaps it's balanced if the other players know to pick on Khorne once he's got it.
Hippos & Crocodiles is a nice-looking Nestorgames abstract with a board made out of mouse mat material and some cute animal pieces. We added in Buffalos which made the game play very differently. You need to think up new tactics to fit your buffalos onto the board, as their horns are wide and tricky to find space for. It's a quick and pleasing little brain workout but I don't think we're experienced enough to regularly overcome a first-player advantage.
I used Mouse Trap for this item because we went to see Agatha Christie's The Mousetrap at the theatre last week. The longest running play in history, I had to catch it on this rare tour in celebration of its 60th anniversary. It was a good night out but the play feels rather dated and the legendary twist was something I predicted partway through but hoped wouldn't be the case!