My First Gulf Games
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So, this is very late -- Gulf Games (winter) was February 21-24, but I didn't have my laptop with me so I didn't do much journaling/geeklisting. The list is for my own benefit/blog (so it won't show up on the front page).

We'd been invited to this several GG's ago, but could never work out the timing. I finally knew the dates far enough in advance that I could arrange to get time off from work, so we went! In fact, I took a few days extra so we could have a little vacation. This year, the location was Huntsville, Alabama. Or rather, Hauntsville -- there was a Halloween theme.
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1. Board Game: Airships [Average Rating:6.42 Overall Rank:1623]
Snooze Fest
United States
Hillsborough
North Carolina
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20 February 2008

We decided to arrive a day early, to be sure we didn't miss anything! We didn't actually take an airship, but we did fly US Airways. Mary and I both had miles that were going to expire (!! When did they start doing that again?!), so we used them to book a flight here. Unfortunately, it was not direct. The layover wasn't too bad, but non-direct flights are always kind of annoying! It did, however, allow us to buy some North Carolina candy-stuff (key lime bark, and peppermint bark?) at the airport store (on our way from one gate to the next) to contribute to the giveaway table (people were supposed to bring some local dish). At $10 a piece, I hope they were tasty!

We rented a car and drove to the hotel -- weird place! It looks more like an office building than a hotel! We had to walk in and ask the person at the desk to be sure we were at the right place (very VERY poor road signage, too)! But the bed was very comfortable (tempurapedic, I think -- one of those memory foam mattresses), and they did have a very simple but free continental breakfast every day.

After checking in, we ran into Greg, who showed us the game room. Our hotel room was on the 2nd floor, and the gaming area was just down the hall! It looked very nice: all sorts of Halloween decorations! I wish we had some of that stuff for our Halloween parties! We helped Greg and the team with the finishing touches on the room, and help unloading the car (lots and lots of soda and chips and stuff) before getting down to the first game....

Giganten der Lufte
(62.6 min)
FTF

Me (first play): 3 (rank: 4)
TimW (first play): 15 (rank: 2)
JamesM: 23 (rank: 1)
MattA (first play): 14 (rank: 3)

Not bad, but a bit long and I think I prefer To Court the King with (prototype) expansion, which gives you more flexibility in what you can roll for, and more dice manipulation. Would like to try this one more time, though.
 
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2. Board Game: Brass: Lancashire [Average Rating:8.01 Overall Rank:34]
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Brass
2/20/2008, 20:30 (3.1 hrs)

Me: 137 (rank: 2)
Giles (first play): 160 (rank: 1)
KevinB: 137 (rank: 3)

I'd just learned this recently, at our gaming extravaganza, and had been wanting to play it again. Fortunately, Giles wanted to learn and Greg had brought a copy! It was a fun game, even though KB repeatedly did exactly what I'd planned to do, just before I did it! Unfortunately for him, Kevin just couldn't get a reliable income stream set up. Giles, on the other hand, had more money than he could spend! His rails covered most of the board, and he won easily -- nice (first play!) game!
 
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3. Board Game: König von Siam [Average Rating:6.92 Overall Rank:999]
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Hillsborough
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We joined a table for breakfast, which turned out to be OK for the price: greasy sausage patty (and biscuit and gravy, if you wanted), sweet rolls, toastable waffles, coffee and tea (although thry usually ran out of hot water and weren't great about refilling). Good company, though!

Not many people had arrived yet. The three of us decided to try this, which I think we'd all heard of, but hadn't actually played. It is the definition of the prototypical euro pushing-cubes-around-the-board game. We generally caught on, but even at the end none of us really had a clear idea of how to play the game strategically.

King of Siam
2/21/2008, 09:02 (46.7 min)

Me (first play): (rank: 1)
CharlieD (first play):
ChrisC (first play):
 
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4. Board Game: Cuba [Average Rating:7.16 Overall Rank:416]
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A few more people had arrived. After a bit of the which-game-is-next game, we settled on Cuba. Greg taught (good thing -- my last game was at BGG.CON and I've been wanting to play it again), and we decided to play on the back side (different player boards for all). I like it! Sure, there's not much new, but it all works well: role selection, building, voting, goods delivery -- may have to buy it!

Cuba
2/21/2008, 10:21 (142.6 min)

Me: 88 (rank: 1)
CharlieD (first play): 60 (rank: 5)
ChrisC (first play): 73 (rank: 3)
GregS: 72 (rank: 4)
MattA (first play): 77 (rank: 2)
 
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5. Board Game: Infernal Contraption 2: Sabotage! [Average Rating:6.31 Unranked] [Average Rating:6.31 Unranked]
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Hillsborough
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Even more people had arrived. We couldn't initially figure out what to play next. Warren suggested this, which was new to us all.

A CCG-like game: you divide the deck amongst the players. Cards are machine parts that you put together to build a machine. On your turn, you add whatever cards you can (first one is free, then must discard a card for each other card played), then operate your machine from left to right (machine is linear, with plugins off the sides; each card does something, generally either give you cards or take cards away from another's draw pile), then draw up to 7 or discard down to 10. If you cannot draw (draw pile exhausted), you lose -- winner is the last player remaining.

The Sabotage expansion adds cards that allow you to mess directly with other players' machines. I've only played the game once, with the expansion.

With all the text to read, our play was (not surprisingly) a bit slow. With repeated play, however, this should play much more quickly -- it's random enough that you shouldn't really need to strategize much. But I was suprised -- it's still kind of a fun game!

Infernal Contraption 2: Sabotage!
2/21/2008, 16:02 (106.6 min)

Me (first play): (rank: 1)
LourdesB (first play): (rank: 2)
WarrenM (first play): (rank: 3)
 
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6. Board Game: Race for the Galaxy [Average Rating:7.77 Overall Rank:49]
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Yay! I'll play this almost at the drop of a hat! Jim (of the hair!) and Tim hadn't played before, but caught on ... eventually! Fun game, as usual!

Race for the Galaxy
2/21/2008, 18:31 (40.3 min)

Me: 41 (rank: 2)
MattA: 48 (rank: 1)
JimF (first play): 28 (rank: 3)
TimW (first play): 16 (rank: 4)
 
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7. Board Game: Take it Easy! [Average Rating:6.61 Overall Rank:1379]
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After dinner, it was time for the first group game. We split up into tables of 5 or 6. Then, the winners at each table stood, and were slowly eliminated as the caller (Stven) counted off point tiers. Mary crushed us, but not well enough to win -- I think the winner had over 200 points! I didn't do so well cry

Take It Easy
2/21/2008, 20:01 (21 min)

Me: 100 (rank: 5)
MP: 183 (rank: 1)
JeffA: 152 (rank: 2)
Dale: 152 (rank: 2)
Steve: 127 (rank: 4)
 
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8. Board Game: Tichu [Average Rating:7.60 Overall Rank:119]
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Last game of the night. Jeff had played before, but it'd been a while so Mary went over rules for him (she has taught a LOT of people! Even Gail, who apparently had stayed away from the game after a bad first experience, liked the game after her play here) before we started. It was pretty much a rout at the start, with Jeff and I taking a big lead. I think they closed the gap, but not quite enough.

Tichu
2/21/2008, 20:40 (111.7 min)

Me and JeffA (team A): (rank: 1)
MP and Dale (team B):
 
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9. Board Game: Through the Ages: A Story of Civilization [Average Rating:8.03 Overall Rank:26]
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Hillsborough
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We decided to go the Lost Luggage Center today. We'd planned on going with Dale and the group he was travelling with, at 11am. But those bozos decided to leave early! We didn't find Dale's not until we'd been waiting around a while. Oh well ... we eventually headed out there. It's about a 45-minute drive.

I'm kind of glad we went, but I was ready to leave shortly after arriving! I did pick up a nice (new) overcoat, and a Babylon 5 Cast & Crew jacket (likely destined for eBay). Mary got a new Nintendo DS and some games. All the prices were pretty good, but not quite as low as I'd expected. Also, I was missing gaming!! We ended up spending long painful HOURS there ... I was happy to leave! When we got back to the game room, I got into a game as soon as possible. Dan had played before, but not for a while (and not much). I hadn't played much, either, but enough to walk us through the rules as we went. Great game!

Through the Ages: A Story of Civilization
2/22/2008, 17:14 (127.6 min)
Advanced game.

Me: (rank: 1)
DanB: (rank: 2)
 
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10. Board Game: Ubongo Extreme [Average Rating:6.83 Overall Rank:1516]
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Hillsborough
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Mary was back from dinner, and we were looking for something quick. We roped Jeff into trying this with us. We played the easy side: it's about as easy as the difficult side of the basic game. The step up in difficulty is good, but I miss the play on the gem board from the original game. Also, it was a bit annoying having to pick a new color every turn. Still, probably a good buy if the basic game is too easy for you.

Ubongo Extrem
2/22/2008, 20:24 (23.8 min)

Me (first play): 24 (rank: 3)
MP (first play): 30 (rank: 1)
Jeff (first play): 26 (rank: 2)
 
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11. Board Game: Race for the Galaxy [Average Rating:7.77 Overall Rank:49]
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One more play!!

Race for the Galaxy
2/22/2008, 20:59 (24.6 min)

Me: 46 (rank: 2)
Jeff: 49 (rank: 1)
 
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12. Board Game: Pandemic [Average Rating:7.66 Overall Rank:73]
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Hillsborough
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This game had been getting a LOT of play. A quick-playing cooperative game that plays well with two would be great -- Mary doesn't like it when I attack her! -- so I was really looking forward to trying it out. We played on the Normal level, and got crushed pretty quickly (just after finding our first cure)!

Pandemic
2/22/2008, 21:48 (35.1 min)

Me (team A) (first play): (rank: 4)
Jeff (team A) (first play): (rank: 4)
LennyLo (team A) (first play): (rank: 4)
SheldonS (team A) (first play): (rank: 4)


So we set it up and tried again! We did much better this time. Jeff was the dispatcher, and did a great job coordinating us. This was a pretty fun game, although it felt more like a group puzzle than a game. I guess that's what a pure-coop is going to be, though -- given good communication, the outcome depends entirely on the card shuffle. We had a lot of fun, although I'm not sure I'd actually like to own this.

Pandemic
2/22/2008, 22:27 (47.8 min)

Me (team A) (first play): (rank: 1)
Jeff (team A) (first play): (rank: 1)
LennyL (team A) (first play): (rank: 1)
SheldonS (team A) (first play): (rank: 1)
 
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13. Board Game: Hex Hex [Average Rating:5.89 Overall Rank:5031]
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Hillsborough
North Carolina
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My last game for the evening. Mary was finishing up something or other, and I just wanted a quick filler. Steve suggested this one, and roped some of the Werewolfers (game to start soon) and a few others into trying it out.

It's a very random filler, probably more fun very very late at night. You're dealt a new hand of cards each round. Starting player throws a Hex at someone, who plays a card to deflect it (or otherwise modify it) to someone else. Continue till it hits someone -- they lose VP, last person to deflect it gains VP. Play until some target VP, or until you're sick of the game.

Works OK, but very random. Light fun.

Hex Hex
2/22/2008, 23:26 (22.6 min)

Me: (rank: 6)
Jeff (first play):
SteveA:
SheldonS (first play):
MarkB (first play):
AlisonB (first play):
 
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14. Board Game: Race for the Galaxy [Average Rating:7.77 Overall Rank:49]
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Mary's still not done! So I rope Kevin into a "fast" game.

Race for the Galaxy
2/23/2008, 00:18 (27.4 min)

Me: 39 (rank: 2)
KevinB: 40 (rank: 1)


And yet again, since Mary's STILL not done! (She got stuck in a LONG game of Jantaris)

Race for the Galaxy
2/23/2008, 00:49 (27.4 min)

Me: 39 (rank: 1)
KevinB: 23 (rank: 2)
 
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15. Board Game: Glik [Average Rating:6.27 Overall Rank:6357]
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First game, Saturday. I'd heard good things about this and wanted to try it. Not many people were up yet, so it was just me and Mary. Unfortunately, just a partial game: Mary was too tired (late night!) to really learn the rules, and maybe I was too tired to explain them well! We aborted not long after starting, when it was clear she had misunderstood some thing(s).

Ricochet Robot like movement, trying to get your pieces onto the board from your starting location, then move them to ending location. Can place/move 4 Guards, to help you make turns and/or block opponents' movements.

Need to play a full game, maybe with more players -- should be fun.

Glik
2/23/2008, 09:10 (18.7 min)
Me (first play): (rank: 1)
MP (first play):
 
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16. Board Game: Liar's Dice [Average Rating:6.92 Overall Rank:561]
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Group game #2. I ended up winning at our table - yay!

Liar's Dice
2/23/2008, 10:39 (22.2 min)

Me: (rank: 1)
JeffA: (rank: 3)
JimF: (rank: 5)
JoeDiV: (rank: 2)
MattA: (rank: 6)
PeterH: (rank: 4)


But I lost at the Finals table. At least I wasn't the first one knocked out!

Liar's Dice
2/23/2008, 11:13 (17.2 min)

Me: (rank: 5)
SteveA: (rank: 4)
GilesS: (rank: 1)
JohnP: (rank: 3)
StephanieK: (rank: 6)
CraigB: (rank: 2)
 
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17. Board Game: Indonesia [Average Rating:7.81 Overall Rank:189]
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Jeff had been trying to get a game of this together for a day or two, and it finally happened. I joined, making it a full complement of 5. I finally got to play an official game (counting towards the Friendliest Person contest) with Cynthia (she's so cute!) -- we'd played something earlier, but it was on Wednesday night, before the contest actually began. She did great, just missing the win. I did ... not so great!

Thanks to Jeff for the teaching! I've been wanting to play this again for quite some time.

Indonesia
2/23/2008, 12:46 (3.7 hrs)

Me: 619 (rank: 5)
JeffA: 1070 (rank: 1)
CynthiaL (first play): 928 (rank: 2)
EricK (first play): 688 (rank: 4)
CharlieD: 835 (rank: 3)
 
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18. Board Game: König von Siam [Average Rating:6.92 Overall Rank:999]
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OK, trying this game again. Still not so sure about it....

King of Siam
2/23/2008, 16:40 (43.7 min)

Me: (rank: 3)
EricK (first play): (rank: 1)
CynthiaL (first play): (rank: 2)
 
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19. Board Game: Through the Ages: A Story of Civilization [Average Rating:8.03 Overall Rank:26]
Snooze Fest
United States
Hillsborough
North Carolina
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We love our pups!! Misu, RIP 28 Nov 2010. Tikka, RIP 11 Aug 2011.
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The last game for the evening. Jeff and I had intended on playing a full game, 2-player. But Giles was interested in the game, so he joined us. And he ended up winning! Unfortunately, Giles is a thinker -- the game, which already takes a long time the first time you play, took REALLY long! I'd hoped to play Brass after our TTA game, but there just wasn't going to be any time. I was happy when it finally ended!

Game length is totally understandable, but I wish we'd just played the advanced game -- much better for a new player, I think. I am glad, though, to have played my first-ever full game!

Through the Ages: A Story of Civilization
2/23/2008, 18:23 (6.3 hrs)
Full game.
Me: 126 (rank: 3)
JeffA: 141 (rank: 2)
GilesS (first play): 156 (rank: 1)

To be fair: there was a slight interruption in this game -- the prize table picks. However, I'm pretty sure I took that time out of the tally!

The prize table rules were different than what I've done before: instead of total randomness, you got to pick when your game got picked. That's OK -- we brought a few games we thought would be pretty popular. Unfortunately, we misunderstood that it works by how you register -- if you register as a family, you only get one pick the first time through! Why? I have no idea -- makes no sense to me, really, since as far as I can see there should be no relationship between how you got to the conference and how you give/pick. So I was a little surprised when our second game got picked in the first round (and I started walking to the front to go pick my own game) but someone else's name was called! Ugg! We ended up taking home Hamsterrolle, a neat little dexterity game, and Aquaduct, which we haven't played yet (tho M has played it once before)! Ah well ... at least both games are pretty new to us (with our large collection, most of the games on the table were ones we already had!).
 
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20. Board Game: König von Siam [Average Rating:6.92 Overall Rank:999]
Snooze Fest
United States
Hillsborough
North Carolina
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We love our pups!! Misu, RIP 28 Nov 2010. Tikka, RIP 11 Aug 2011.
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Sunday morning. I was a bit surprised by how few people were still around! Most conventions we've been to, attendance drops; but not this much! Bay had to leave for the airport soon, so I QUICKLY ran through the rules and we played a too-fast version of the game. It was too quick to get an appreciation for it. Mary really didn't like it at all, but Bay saw some potential there. We finished after Bay left (last turn), but that last turn was annoying because you have to figure out if you can play your card or not! I think I'd have won if I'd played my penultimate turn differently, but we were just too rushed. Oh well ... I definitely don't like the game enough to buy it; but maybe I'll make my own version of it, something I can carry around in a deck box or something.

King of Siam
2/24/2008, 10:28 (15 min)

Me: (rank: 3)
MP (first play): (rank: 1)
Bay (first play): (rank: 2)
 
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21. Board Game: Zatre: Das Kartenspiel [Average Rating:5.78 Overall Rank:11157]
Snooze Fest
United States
Hillsborough
North Carolina
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A few more people around. Mary likes the Zatre board game, and we happened to find this version to try. It wasn't as good! More portable than the original, but seemed pretty random. Plays very similarly, of course; you're just missing the limits of the board shape, and the special scoring spots. But too much randomness.

Zatre - Das Kartenspiel
2/24/2008, 10:45 (45.8 min)

Me (first play): 78 (rank: 2)
JimC (first play): 73 (rank: 3)
WardB (first play): 92 (rank: 1)
MP (first play): 62 (rank: 4)
 
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22. Board Game: Brass: Lancashire [Average Rating:8.01 Overall Rank:34]
Snooze Fest
United States
Hillsborough
North Carolina
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We love our pups!! Misu, RIP 28 Nov 2010. Tikka, RIP 11 Aug 2011.
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My last game, and it turns out to be a good one! Sheila and Bo had both played before, but not many times. We did sort of a rules refresher as we went. I ended up winning, but it turns out I cheated! Unintentionally, of course, but I built a level 2 shipyard in the Canal phase! Later on, while surfing the Brass pages here, I figured out I'd screwed that up! Oh well, still a fun game. Sheila, who'd been struggling with income the whole time, scored major VP in the end with all her cotton mills. I somehow forgot about VP and kept increasing my income! Now, I need to play the game again, with the RIGHT rules!

Brass
2/24/2008, 13:34 (142.4 min)

Me: 190 (rank: 1)
Shiela: 188 (rank: 2)
BoL: 175 (rank: 3)
 
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23. Board Game: So Long Sucker [Average Rating:6.28 Overall Rank:8202]
Snooze Fest
United States
Hillsborough
North Carolina
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Well, we were the last ones out of there since we'd decided to spend a few days more in the area. The next day (Monday 25th) we went to the Space Center. I'd no idea Huntsville was such a big deal! The rides aren't particularly impressive: a spinner thing like a centrifuge, and one of those rides that takes you straight up and then drops you a few times. But the museum was pretty cool -- lots of stuff to read and learn. I don't think we need to go back, but maybe.

Thanks, Greg, for the invite! Ya'll did a great job with the organizing and decorating! And we met a lot of great new people, too! Mary met more than I did -- she was second in the Friendlist Woman contest (by one person!), but that's to be expected.

We both had a lot of fun! I hope we can make it to another Gulf Games soon!
 
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