G is for Game Night
Tim Shippert
United States
Richland
Washington
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A robust and joy-filled nine players attended the CBBS Game Night on March 11, 2017. Except for the robust and joy parts. Nyck, Tim, Ian, Benjamin, Art, Andy, Shawn, Tom, and Djoe were involved in this debacle.


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1. Board Game: Ricochet Robots [Average Rating:7.00 Overall Rank:589] [Average Rating:7.00 Unranked]
Tim Shippert
United States
Richland
Washington
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Start time: 6:36pm
End time: 7:00pm


R is for Ricochet Robots.




Nyck, Tim, Ian, Benjamin, Art, and Andy* got chips. Everybody else didn't. Nyeah.
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2. Board Game: The Pillars of the Earth [Average Rating:7.31 Overall Rank:236]
Tim Shippert
United States
Richland
Washington
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Splain time: 7:00pm
Start time: 7:30pm
End time: 9:20pm


With eight gamers available, we (uncharacteristically) took no time at all to figure out that meant two four-player games. Tim had reread the rules to The Pillars of the Earth a couple weeks ago in preparation for EFORP, but we never got around to playing it, so he forced Art, Shawn, and Benjamin to join in.


Astonishingly, it appears that we had never actually played Tim's copy of this game before - the rules were highlighted from ten years ago when he first got it, and he has played the game multiple times, but the cards were still in shrinkwrap, so he must have played somebody else's copy. Zounds!

Anyway, this was one of the first post-Caylus "worker placement" games, although the mechanism for placing a guy before you do a thing is a little more complicated (and controversial). The start player will randomly draw a guy out of a bag, and then you have to pay money to place him, with the money decreasing as the round goes on. So there are two ways to get hosed: your guy might be drawn too early, in which case you can't afford to place him, or your guy might be drawn too late, in which case the spot you want to put him on might already be taken. A lot of people really disliked this mechanism, but, like most bits of randomness in a middleweight+ game, I think people underrate the strategic element it presents. The solution is to be flexible enough to take advantage of your opportunities and to ameliorate your bad luck. It probably won't all even out and you may not be able to overcome your bad luck or your opponent's good luck, but there are still key decisions to be made to hedge your bets - and randomness can provide interesting game states to navigate through that might not otherwise occur.

Anyway, Benjamin built up an engine based on stone, while Shawn did the same with wood. There is an early Woodcarver or something that lets you trade wood for money, which is interesting since most craftsmen just score you points, which Shawn relied on heavily for income. Tim got the early Toolmaker, so he made sure to get the first metal cube from the King so he could earn a couple gold every turn. But with spots for only five craftsmen, it soon becomes tricky deciding whether the extra couple coins are worth the opportunity to run another craftsman for some more points.

That's actually the key decision in the game, as well - what core craftsmen do you dump, and when? It probably makes sense to focus on one resource if you can, so dumping your initial wood guy for a sculptor makes a lot of sense. But because you are fighting for craftsmen all game, and they keep getting better and better, there's a real cost in making such a decision and cutting yourself off from advanced woodworking (or whatever) craftsmen available in the later rounds.

Tim's initial craftsman buy used sand, but the middle rounds saw a lack of sand resource cards come out, so he had to find another way to score points. His solution was to get Prior Philip, which gave an extra point whenever you place a guy on the Priory. Thus, Tim's engine didn't rely so much on craftsmen (and, therefore, goods), but used up one of his guys to score straight points. That left fewer actions to do other things, like get new cards or get extra fellows - instead, he focused on grabbing the King's metal whenever he could, then either going to the market to sell stuff for money or using the Archbishop to avoid an event or get a free resource.

Because Tim had been hording metal all game, he was able to score big in the penultimate round when a glassblower finally became available. But by that point Benjamin and Shawn were scoring almost as much with their synergistic craftsmen, and they were much better set up for the final round, since they could rely on regular resources to score. In addition, Tim was going to go last in the final round, since he couldn't spare a feller to take start player, which meant he wasn't going to have very good options for grabbing resources. Still, he was able to grab one more metal cube and score the Priory, and ended up in the Archbishop's office and hoped for the best.

...which came, in the form of an event that reduced each resource card by one. That devastated Benjamin, who lost two stone and four points, and cost Shawn at least two points worth of wood. More importantly, since Tim was immune, it evened out his last player disadvantage. He was able to score his four stone and one more run of the glassblower, which was just enough to snake the victory from Shawn, 46 to 45. Art ran his last-round metal guy for a big score to finish with 42, while Benjamin wound up with 41.
 
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3. Board Game: A Feast for Odin [Average Rating:8.18 Overall Rank:31]
Tim Shippert
United States
Richland
Washington
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Start time: 7:12pm
End time: 10:07pm


The other four yahoos (Ian, Andy, Tom, and Nyck) schlepped back to the Lounge to play A Feast fer Odin.


Andy claims to have won with 119 points, although his arithmetic on the final scoresheet was suspect. Seriously, there's like numbers all over the place on that thing. But some of them do add up to 119, so, whatever.

Ian score 114, Nyck finished with 69, and Tom wound up with 67.
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4. Board Game: Pairs [Average Rating:6.40 Overall Rank:2036]
Tim Shippert
United States
Richland
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Start time: 7:22pm
End time: 7:49pm


Meanwhile, Djoe, who is Tim's brother visiting from Seattle, wandered in, too late to get in on the initial config. So he played three solo games of Pairs, somehow. His virtual opponent was SOG, which stands for Stupid Other Guy.

SOG won all three games, 30-33, 28-33, and 24-34.

 
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5. Board Game: Martian Dice [Average Rating:6.33 Overall Rank:1887]
Tim Shippert
United States
Richland
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Start time: 7:51pm
End time: 9:04pm


Djoe faired better against SOG during three games of Martian Dice, winning 27-22 and 29-24 before falling in the rubber match, 24-28.
 
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6. Board Game: Discount Salmon [Average Rating:5.71 Overall Rank:11999]
Tim Shippert
United States
Richland
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Start time: 9:30pm
End time: 9:50pm


The fools in the Lounge promised they would be finished soon, so Tim, Djoe, Art, Shawn, and Benjamin broke out one of the top two real-time salmon-themed games of the past couple years, Discount Salmon.


The idea is that you flip over one of the "salmon" in the center ("Lake Miasma"), all of which have one or more problems. For example, they might be stinky, or they might be a tire instead of being a fish. The first person to play the cards needed to correct all the problems (perfume to make it not stinky, a fish-costume to hide the fact that it's not a fish) claims the fish card. Whoever gets the most fish wins.

The symbols are designed to be kinda hard to tell apart, which increases the necessary skill level. Hey, if it were easy to gather and fix inedible fish to sell at a discount, everybody would be doing it.

Benjamin clearly had what it takes to be as successful Discount Salmon merchant, earning 10 fish along the way. Tim got into a zone in the latter half and scored 6, while Art and Shawn dragged the occasional fish for 3, and Djoe at least was able to make lunch, scoring a single fish.
 
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7. Board Game: We Didn't Playtest This At All [Average Rating:5.58 Overall Rank:12960] [Average Rating:5.58 Unranked]
Tim Shippert
United States
Richland
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Start time: 9:50pm
End time: We didn't look at the clock at all


Cuz those Lounge bastards a steaming pile of lying liars who lie, we needed another filler in the front. So Tim, Djoe, Art, Shawn, and Benjamin played six rounds of We Didn't Playtest This At All.


Art won Round 0, everyone lost Round 1, everybody but Shawn won Round 3, Art won round 3, and Djoe won Rounds 4 and 5. There were votes and RPS and Tim lost by reading aloud the word "their"; but nobody won via points, because nobody ever wins via points. Except that one time somebody did.
 
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8. Board Game: Airships [Average Rating:6.41 Overall Rank:1702]
Tim Shippert
United States
Richland
Washington
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Setup time: 10:16pm
Splain time: 10:19pm
Start times: 10:29pm, 11:16pm
End times: 11:11pm, 11:50pm (two games)
Discussion time: 11:51pm
Stowage time: 11:54pm


For the reconfig, the front room decided to lighten things up a bit and play the fun dice-chucker Airships. Andy, tom, Tim, and Joe were the zepplineers.


There is a trap in any engine building game, where you get caught up in continuing to build your capacity to do cool things and forget to actually score points. In Airships, you can score some points with the improvements to your company, but obviously most of your points should come from building actual Airships. Tim knows this lesson well, which is why he left a couple spots open on his board and turned towards the zeppelins before everybody else. Consequently, he scored 22 points when the final zeppelin was built, with Djoe, Andy, and Tom stuck at 13, 12, and 11, respectively.

But, the back room was still busy, so we made the unprecedented (except for the times we have done this before) decision to play the game again. Ironically, in the second game, Tim made the same mistake everybody made in the first game - he spent too much time building his engine, and never successfully built a single zeppelin nor even scored a single point. To be fair, he got balked by some unfortunate rolls while trying to get the +2 red bonus card and again while trying to get the double black die purple card. Meanwhile, Andy was blitzing the cheap zeppelins to finish with 13, while Djoe scored 8 and Tom finished with 7.

It is pleasing to see that a blitz strategery can work, as long as the other players are focusing more long term and you roll well (of course - it is a dice game).
 
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9. Board Game: Orléans [Average Rating:8.08 Overall Rank:25]
Tim Shippert
United States
Richland
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Start time: 10:30pm
End time: 12:10am


The dingbats in the Lounge chose to play Orléans. Art, Nyck, Shawn, and Ian dealt with the consequences of that decision.


One consequence was that Shawn won, scoring 119 points. Nyck finished with 116, Art wound up with 108, and Ian scored 99.
 
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10. Board Game: Sorry! Sliders [Average Rating:6.41 Overall Rank:1535]
Tim Shippert
United States
Richland
Washington
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Start time: 12:01am
End time: A bad day's when I lie in bed, and think of things that might have been


Even two games of Airships < one game of Orléans, so Tim, Djoe, and Andy needed another filler. They chose Sorry! Sliders, the most strategic game available about sliding pawns onto a scoring pad. With three players we made a long approach track to the finishing pad, since there was no way to make a symmetrical board. We also only had three approach segments, because four wouldn't fit on the table.


Believe or not, there really is some strategy in Sorry! Sliders. You have four scoring markers you need to move up a scoring track to Home, and each one can only move once per round - so if three of your sliders score, you have to decide which three scoring markers to move, and by how much. The trick is that you have to get to Home by exact count.

Tim took that to mean that it would be hard to get fellers Home, and thus you should focus on moving one pawn far ahead, and move any pawn to Home when you could. Accordingly, he left one guy on the bottom rank and rushed one guy to the top, leaving the middle markers spread out. This appeared to give him maximum flexibility over his opponents, who moved their pawns more or less evenly - until Tim got a guy Home, and suddenly those small numbers he was scoring weren't doing him much good. Suddenly, Tim found himself at least two big turns away from finishing, while Andy and Djoe just needed a few small scores to do the same.

As we got a little better sliding, the scores went down - in the initial round we had some 3s and 4s, because nobody had the chops to play defense, but in the final round we could push everybody off the board or to the back for small scores. So Tim's fear of overscoring at the end was completely unfounded, and he still had a pawn three steps away when Djoe and Andy both got their final guy home. Djoe won on the tiebreaker, which I believe is highest scoring pawn on the final board.

We played the "Danger Dots" version, which has no hole in the center but has a few spots in the 4 ring that immediately eliminate a slider if they move or are moved onto them. In the future, we will probably play the Black Hole board, where any pawn moved or knocked into the center hole is eliminated, because Danger Dots just slow things down as you have to check to see if you are touching it or not.
 
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11. Board Game: Dog Royal [Average Rating:6.59 Overall Rank:4901]
Tim Shippert
United States
Richland
Washington
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Start time: 12:30am
End time: 1:55am


It was twelve-thirty, and we had six gamers left. Ergo, Dog Royal. Thus it has been; thus it shall ever be. (Until a new six-player version of Dog comes out. I got Black DOG on order, but that only plays four.)

The teams were Tim and Djoe, Ian and Shawn, and Nyck and Art.


Tim tried the strategy of not getting any start cards for the first two turns, which is only fair, because he's the one that makes people play this game. But, fortunately, a slow start is only debilitating if you let it get into your head and corrupt your inner Dogness. Soon, Tim and Djoe were back in the hunt, with the help of a good round of red and green cards. In fact, Tim was the first to get all four of his fellers home, but by that point both Ian and Shawn were just one away - and they both raced home over the course of four played cards in the final round for the victory.
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12. Board Game: Miscellaneous Game Accessory [Average Rating:7.07 Overall Rank:3739] [Average Rating:7.07 Overall Rank:71]
Tim Shippert
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Richland
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Jeepers, Tim really went overboard with the snack table this time. See, the problem is that lots of people don't RSVP correctly, and then show up, so Tim always feels like he's going to need more snacks, and then when we only get nine we have way too much. The donut holes, of course, went instantly, but everything else hung around to taunt Tim over the next few days until he got rid of it.


Why is the Fanta bottle shaped differently? Is it a more efficient shape that maximizes the flow of grape-flavored sugar water into your pie hole? Perhaps it's to let the soda breathe or bloom correctly, like all those different shapes of glasses you can get for various kinds of high falutin' booze. Or maybe the bottler Fanta uses has just gone insane. Still, it bugs me, and complicates my attempts optimize packing in the drink cooler. Bah!
 
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