Subterranean Homesick Game Night
Tim Shippert
United States
Richland
Washington
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Previous Session Reports

On September 14, 2013, twenty-three gamers entered the Official CBBS Gaming Basement and played games. Some of them were even invited. Included in this farce were Tim, New Eric, Kelli, Aaron, Scott, Andy, Leif, Elden, Nyck, Nathaniel, Suzie, Tom, Shawn, Counterclockwise Scott, Jerry, Tycho, Suzie, Eden, Ori, Joe, Levi, Gavi, and Alan.



There were a number of suspicious gaps in the action, which suggests that scoresheet discipline was lacking. We know it was hot and humid, everybody, but that does NOT absolve you of your personal Game Night responsibilities.
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1. Board Game: Ricochet Robots [Average Rating:7.00 Overall Rank:619] [Average Rating:7.00 Unranked]
Tim Shippert
United States
Richland
Washington
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Start time: 6:30pm
End time: 6:55pm


As we waited for the oh-so-slow stragglers to finally arrive, we hit upon a novel solution: to play a game of Ricochet Robots! Intrigued by this original thought, we then engaged in a lively and hideous twenty-five minute exercise in quiet contemplation, punctuated by periodic expressions of outrage and contempt. Hooray!


These puzzles here are for your edification. Please edify them.


When the final buzzer went off, New Eric, Tim, Andy, Kelli, Scott, Leif, Elden, Nyck, Caleb, and Nathaniel had all solved at least one puzzle. Zounds!
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2. Board Game: Tongiaki: Journey into the Unknown [Average Rating:6.24 Overall Rank:2403]
Tim Shippert
United States
Richland
Washington
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Start time: 7:00pm
End Time: 7:35pm


To start our first config, Tom, Leif, Nathaniel, and Nyck played a lightning-fast game of Tongiaki: Journey into the Unknown. In fact, it was so quick that we have neither details nor any photographs to accompany this report; all we have are the final scores.

Tom won, 31 to 23 to 18 to 11.
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3. Board Game: Modern Art [Average Rating:7.37 Overall Rank:216]
Tim Shippert
United States
Richland
Washington
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Start time: 7:10pm
End time: 8:10pm


On Table One, we were looking for a not-too-complicated, not-too-long five player game to get us started, because at least one fifth of us were so very, very tired. Fortunately, Modern Art fits that description perfectly, and is a bona fide classic to boot, so Andy, Caleb, Scott, Elden, and Tim played it.


The math on this game has always befuddled me. It seems that paying more than 50% of what a painting will be worth is a bad idea, as it makes more money for the auctioneer than for you. However, you have to buy some paintings to win (unless you just have great cards to sell), so it is usually in somebody's interest to go past the halfway mark, which means you have to do so as well.

In fact, the true breakpoint might be closer to 2/3 of true value; at that point, the auctioneer is making as much profit (1/3 total value) over you as you are over everybody else. Below that point, the auctioneer can just buy it himself and still show at least a 1/3 profit over everybody.

Of course, mixed in with the math is the uncertainty of what the paintings actually will be worth, what cards you have in your hand, what kind of auction it is, what paintings are going to be sold next, and the game position of both you and the auctioneer.

So, as you can see, it was an easy, light-hearted romp through the world of art speculation.


Anyway, Tim benefited from a couple weird situations. First, he was able to close out the second round with only three Karl Gitter paintings (and nothing else) having been purchased - two of them by himself, which gave him a $50M to $100M windfall over the other players. He did have to dump his last Karl Gitter painting on Caleb's solo = play, and Gitters would obviously be worth a lot in later rounds, but it was still clearly the right play.

Later on, Andy (on Tim's right) made a double auction of Lite Metal, which put four on the board and cemented them in first place for the round at $80M apiece. It is rare when you know exactly what a set of paintings is worth, but in this case it was a fixed-price auction, which meant Andy could only legally offer a price that he himself could match. As he had only $110M in cash, Tim got the first chance at a free $50M windfall, and obviously took it.

So it was no surprise that Tim finished with $501M and the victory, followed by Elden's $377M, Scott's $312M, Andy's $281M, and Caleb's $274M. Elden was stingy and didn't buy a lot of art, while Caleb bought plenty; their relative endgame positions suggest that we may be (collectively) paying a little too much on average for our paintings. Or maybe it means the opposite. Whatever.
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4. Board Game: Agricola [Average Rating:7.99 Overall Rank:25]
Tim Shippert
United States
Richland
Washington
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Start time: 7:10pm
End time: 10:00pm


For some reason, Shawn, Aaron, Kelli, New Eric, and Counterclockwise Scott decided to play Agricola back in the Lounge. I guess they were sick of hanging out with us in the main room and wanted a few hours to themselves.


Counterclockwise Scott has played this a fair amount, so it is no surprise that he won, with 32 points. His big advantage was in being more fertile, as his larger family gave him a nine point advantage over his nearest competitor, Aaron (28 points), who spent more time expanding his farm, tilling his crops, raising animals, and clayifying his house than he spent in the Reproduction Hut.


New Eric, playing for his first time, took a number of -1 penalties, as new players tend to specialize just to cut down on the decision space they have to navigate each turn. Nevertheless, he grew his family to four members, had prodigious herds of sheep and pigs, and built the largest clay hut to finish with 26.

Shawn was the only one who managed to construct a stone hut, but only scored marginal points elsewhere and ended up with 21, while Kelli's small family and unimproved hut led to her 17 point final score.
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5. Board Game: Alien Frontiers [Average Rating:7.46 Overall Rank:181]
Tim Shippert
United States
Richland
Washington
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Splain time: 8:15pm
Start time: 9:00pm
End time: 10:45pm


With the Lounge out of commission for a time, we did a two-table reconfig out front, with Andy, Elden, Jerry, Leif, and Tim playing Alien Frontiers, with the "new" Alien Frontiers: Factions expansion.


The factions complicated the splaining period, as it wasn't clearly explained that each faction gave a bonus for the owner, plus a "docking station" for anybody to use with one of their dice. The individual explanations for each faction made that clear, but there didn't seem to be a description of the overall "theory" behind the faction cards. Once we got that straightened out, and figured out how the Colony Hub worked with five players, AND splained the base game to new player Jerry, we were finally ready to go.


The new Agenda cards were well received, and seemed to offer just the right amount of hidden information to speed up the interminable end game. However, they didn't seem to be particularly well-balanced; lots of them seemed to be really easy ("Have no colonies in Burroughs", or whatever), while others were really hard ("Have these two particular Alien Technologies at the end of the game", which may not even become available). It might be that hard in-game conditions are paired with easier end-game conditions, or maybe you are just out of luck if your initial Agendas suck.

In this game Andy took the Faction that allowed him to use the special ability of any region that was "in contention" (i.e. not owned by anybody), which is, of course, all of them at the start. This seemed really powerful early on, and allowed him to quickly get all six of his "ships" down. Tim had the Faction that gave him a bonus at the Colony Hub, and, accordingly, was the first to get an actual Colony down. He probably should have put it in Herbert Valley to keep Andy from getting a discount on his last die; instead, he put it in Burroughs to get the extra ghost die, since he was having trouble getting the resources to get his fifth die. But, of course, Herbert would have helped him with that as well as balk Andy, and Burroughs is always hotly contested, so that was probably a mistake.

Sure enough, after a couple rounds Jerry knocked Tim out of Burroughs; by that time Andy's extra dice had given him the resources to get most of his colonies down, and everybody else was chasing and trying to keep him from ending it. But on his penultimate turn he rolled four sixes (plus some other stuff), which allowed him to Terraform and use the Colony Constructor to get two Colonies down, and get within a couple spaces on the Colonist Hub, putting his final colony easily within reach on his next turn. We did what we could to keep the resources he needed to build out of his hands, but when he rolled another six on his last turn, he got the metal he needed and ended the game, with nobody else having more than four colonies down.

Those extra colonies gave Andy the clear victory with 10VPs. Elden scored three Agendas and the Positron Field to go along with his three colonies and one control marker for 8 VPs. Jerry managed to score 8 VPs with just two colonies, by controlling both and having two scoring Alien technologies. Leif and Tim both scored four colonies, two Agendas, and one control marker for seven VPs.

Points are still hard to come by, so we probably should have used the Market more to get a third Agenda (and maybe convert our initial ones to something easier to get); I think only Elden did that. However, almost all of our Agendas were actually scored; if that is normally the case, then maybe they don't offer as much hidden information as we thought, which could be a problem.
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6. Board Game: Cosmic Encounter [Average Rating:7.56 Overall Rank:117]
Tim Shippert
United States
Richland
Washington
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Start time: 8:20pm
End time: Who knows?


On Table Three, Scott, Nathaniel, Caleb, Nyck, and Tom played a curious and calculating game of Cosmic Encounter.


Scott was the Masochist, Nathaniel was the Observer, Caleb the Dictator, Nyck the Miser, and Tom the Loser.


The score sheet is interesting, as Caleb and Nyck each scored just one foreign colony, while Scott, Nathaniel, and Tom had zero. That doesn't seem like an end-game score, but Scott managed to lose all his ships, which fulfilled the Masochist's alternate win condition, thereby earning him the victory.


It seems like that should not have taken much time to happen, so perhaps another game of this (or something else) was played. However, we have no scoresheet for any such game, therefore we can only conclude that this game really did take about two hours to finish.


 
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7. Board Game: Trajan [Average Rating:7.78 Overall Rank:73]
Tim Shippert
United States
Richland
Washington
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Start time: 10:15pm
End time: 12:30am


After some unspecified (possibly zero) amount of time after the events recorded above, Shawn, Scott, and Nyck found themselves back in the Lounge playing Trajan. Tim wanted to play Trajan, too, but couldn't, as he was still losing in Alien Frontiers. So it goes.


It sure looks exciting.


Scott scored 132 talents, Shawn earned 123 sesterces, and Nyck finished with 102 denarios.
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8. Board Game: Sindbad [Average Rating:6.08 Overall Rank:8523]
Tim Shippert
United States
Richland
Washington
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Start time: 10:20pm
End time: 11:55pm


Table Three was the scene of a clean and groovy game of the venerable Sindbad, with Tom, Tycho, Alan, and Kelli as the eponymous Sindbads.


The scoresheet notes that Tycho won because of a card that sent him back to the nearest ship - which just happened to be in Basra, allowing Tycho to cash in the monster trophy he had just earned! Sometimes, the gods are kind.


However! The scoresheet completely disagrees with itself, as it claims Tom finished with 1146 kilomiskhals for the victory, while Tycho had 566, Alan scored 322, and Kelli finished with 679.

Either somebody mis-transcribed "Tycho" for "Tom" (or vice versa) in one of the two sections, or two different games were played and recorded on the same scoresheet, or the scribe has gone completely insane. We'll leave it for history to judge.
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9. Board Game: Powerboats [Average Rating:6.73 Overall Rank:1464]
Tim Shippert
United States
Richland
Washington
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Start time: 11:00pm
End time: 12:07am


Table One was done too late to get in on the 10:30ish reconfig, so the rest of the evening was destined to be off-sync. That's just the way it is; if you don't like it, then maybe you should host your own damn Game Night, which you may run with as much ruthless, fascist efficiency as you wish.

Anyway, Jerry, Elden, Andy, Eric, and Tim played two-thirds of a game of Powerboats.


Jerry and Tim have played this an awful lot on our weekly Wednesday game sessions at Rosy's Diner, so it is no surprise that they finished in the top two. They and Eric actually finished the first round on the exact same turn, but Jerry hit his marks better in the second round, and pulled out the 16 to 14 victory. Eric, who also has some experience with the game, came in third with 10 points, while Elden finished close behind with 8. Andy came in last in both rounds, and thus officially scored zero points.

The weird thing about Powerboats is that, as a dice game, you think it is all about rolling dice. But it is actually about not rolling dice; the key is to find a speed that will take you through the next section of the course with the least amount of rerolls possible. There are times when you need to take a risk to catch up, but generally you only want to reroll early in a sequence or when you otherwise have enough flexibility to handle a variety of outcomes.
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10. Board Game: King of Tokyo [Average Rating:7.23 Overall Rank:257]
Tim Shippert
United States
Richland
Washington
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Start time: 11:06

Levi, Joe, Ori, Gavi, and Eden played King of Tokyo. No winner was specified.
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11. Board Game: Dice Town [Average Rating:6.85 Overall Rank:769]
Tim Shippert
United States
Richland
Washington
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Start time: 11:53pm

Ori, Levi, Joe, Gavi, and Suzie then played Dice Town.


It appears that Levi might have won.
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12. Board Game: Shadow Hunters [Average Rating:6.83 Overall Rank:797]
Tim Shippert
United States
Richland
Washington
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Start time: 12:10am
End time: 12:35am


We now had, in some fashion or another, eight gamers demanding another game. So Tim, Nathaniel, Tycho, Jerry, Elden, Andy, Eric, and Kelli played Shadow Hunters. QED.


This game started off like most of ours, with some random sniping here and there, until, for some reason, Jerry had ended up taking a lot of damage and it suddenly became important to figure out whose team he was on. At that point, a few more Hermit cards were played, but soon Jerry was dead and revealed as the Valkyrie. This clarified a bit who some of the Hunters were...

...but it ultimately didn't matter, because when Nathaniel had taken eleven points of damage and was still alive, Tim hunted him down and gave him a killing blow. Nathaniel revealed as the Werewolf, and therefore got to counterattack, but Tim survived to reveal as Bryan, who wins if he kills someone with 13 or more HP. So Tim won.

There was an inordinate amount of grumbling at this outcome, as well as disbelief that the game could actually be over just because somebody had won. Well, excuuuuuuse me - next time I'll try to lose instead.
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13. Board Game: Liar's Dice [Average Rating:6.92 Overall Rank:611]
Tim Shippert
United States
Richland
Washington
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Start time: 12:43:11am
End time: 1:28:02am


It was now time for a ten player game of Liar's Dice, which we hadn't done for awhile. Hooray!


The first casualty was Elden, at 12:55:36am, who lost all five of his dice when Andy called his bid of 28 sixes. Those early rounds with tons of dice are brutal, as it's really easy to be completely wrong either way; and going out early can lead to an hour of doing nothing, when there's nine players left to go. Still, if it were easy to play Liar's Dice, then everybody would do it. So quit yer whining.

Anyhoo, exactly ninety seconds later everybody lost a die, to much groaning and cussing, when Eric called Andy's exact bid of sixteen 6s. We then played for another uneventful nineteen minutes, until Nathaniel went out at 1:16:15am when Tycho called his unspecified, but apparently unwise, bid.


Andy managed to pay forward the lost die for everybody when he called Scott's exact bid of 8 sixes at 1:18:37am. Eric then did the exact same thing at 1:19:01am, calling Andy's bid of 4 stars, which not only cost us all yet another die, but cost Eric his last die.

There weren't a lot of dice left when Nyck called Tim's exact bid of 4 sixes at 1:21:30am, which meant only Scott, Andy, and Nyck lost a die - the latter his final one. Scott eliminated Tycho fifty-nine seconds later by challenging his incorrect bid; at this point the players were falling so fast that Andy, as scribe, couldn't keep up with the details. Fortunately, he got a chance to concentrate on that job when he lost his final die at 1:24:43am by challenging Scott's correct bid of two 4s.

At this point there were only four players left (Scott, Kelli, Tim, and Jerry), each with one die. When this happens, it's often a matter of timing who gets eliminated - if you go late in the round you may be the first to have to either challenge a reasonable bid or make an unreasonable one. Scott chose the latter by bidding two 5s at 1:25:50am, and lost when Kelli challenged. Kelli then opened with a bid of one 4; Tim looked down and saw a 2, and decided to challenge rather than make a blind upbid, and Kelli was out at 1:27:37am.

In the final showdown, Tim made the strategic decision to roll a 6; when Jerry rolled (and bid) a 2, Tim was able to make the unassailable jump to one six, and victory was his (at 1:28:02am).
 
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14. Board Game: Stocks & Bonds [Average Rating:5.62 Overall Rank:11589]
Tim Shippert
United States
Richland
Washington
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Start time: 1:03am
End time: 1:46am


Elden knew what was coming next, so he hid in the Lounge to play a cowardly and lowly solo "game" of Stocks & Bonds.


Lookit him go!


He started with $5000, and finished with just $20,050. You are never going to make it on Wall Street with a performance like that, sir.

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15. Board Game: Jungle Speed [Average Rating:6.54 Overall Rank:1175]
Tim Shippert
United States
Richland
Washington
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Start time: Late
End time: Later


The entire Game Night was leading to this moment - when nine people crowded around the eight-sided Table One to play several rounds of Jungle Speed.


Tycho won round one, despite being outgrabbed by Andy here.


Tycho won round two, which enraged the rest of us.


Andy won round three, which was disappointing in its own way, but at least Tycho didn't win again. Feh.

The scoresheet also, cryptically, tries to divide 5 into 72 using long division, and has seven hash marks, the first four of which are circled. We have no idea what these symbols mean; the only logical conclusion is witchcraft.
 
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16. Board Game: Miscellaneous Game Accessory [Average Rating:7.08 Overall Rank:4017] [Average Rating:7.08 Overall Rank:108]
Tim Shippert
United States
Richland
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I dunno, it looks like something is missing from the snack table. Reese's Pieces, Beef Jerky, Spicy Sweet Chili Doritos, three kinds of Baked Kettle Chips, Sugar Free Wafer Cookies, Dark Almond Roca, three kinds of Chocolate Pretzels, Spice Drops, Fake Twinkies and Chocolate Twinkies (from Sara Lee), Chipotle Zings!, Mint Newman-Os, and Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies. Still, it all fits too easily on the table...

Elden brought some Killian Korn, and there were some Ranch Doritos and some kind of cookie, I think, from other Attendees. So, as you can see, we just barely fended off starvation.


I should get a punch bowl and mix all these together, along with some Light Lemonade, Sunkist 10, Dr. Pepper 10, and Fresca, and make everybody drink a glass before they are allowed in to play. That ought to keep the humidity down.
 
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